Peter Nimrod, chief engineer for the Mississippi Levee Board, is optimistic that we will be relatively safe during the first wave of flood waters that have made its way south so far.
“Over the past several weeks, this office has been keeping a close eye on the rising water,” said Nimrod.
“While the predictions from the National Weather Service River Forecast Center released on Monday show that the areas we are most concerned with, like Helena, Arkansas City and Greenville, will reach levels very close to the flood stage. They will begin cresting over the weekend,” he added.
Cresting is defined as the point of highest flood water, as of a river. When a river reaches its crest, then the water level will begin to drop.
The flood stage for the Helena gauge is 44 feet and the crest there is predicted to reach that mark between Thursday and Friday.
Arkansas City, the gauge that is usually watched by people here in Bolivar County, has a flood stage of 37 feet. It is currently predicted to reach that mark on Saturday before the crest.
Greenville has a flood stage of 48 feet but is predicted to reach a level one foot above that before cresting on Sunday.
“Overall, I think that we will be in good shape with this first wave of water,” said Nimrod. “However, that is not to say that we are completely in the clear. Strange occurrences have happened in the past and it is hard to predict long-term just what the river will do.”
Over the past 15 years, Bolivar County has endured three significant floods. The first of these occurred in 1997.
Nimrod talked about the ’97 spill over saying, “The Arkansas City gauge reached a level of 43.7 feet. Access roads to and from the river were flooded and high levels of water breached many of the homes inside the levee system. Damage was considered extensive.”
In April 2008, the gauge at Arkansas City reached 45.39 feet and the Great River Road State Park in Rosedale was closed. Then in May of the following year, the water reached levels of 40.30 feet on that very same gauge and homes inside the levee were once again filled with water.
Nimrod continued, “The cresting of the river during this first real high water front is great news for us in the Delta. Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that we can make it through June without anymore high water scares.”