Isaac storms little help for river water
by Rory Doyle
Sep 07, 2012 | 1936 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division was fully prepped for the drenching rains and winds that Hurricane Isaac brought to the Gulf Coast last Tuesday.

Many were hopeful that a positive could come from the storm, in that rainfall would provide some relief to extremely low water levels on the Mississippi River.

Port of Rosedale Director Robert Maxwell said the river has risen slightly, but not enough to make a significant impact.

"It looks like we got a small rise of a few inches to a foot in some places, but it's likely to go back down soon," said Maxwell.

"Isaac luckily didn't do much damage here, but it also didn't do us any favors on the river," he added.

Mississippi Valley Division spokesperson Bob Anderson said that although Isaac didn't drop as much rain as the state needed, each storm makes a slight impact.

"There was a sincere desire for Isaac to drop a lot of rain in exactly the right places without causing flooding problems" said Anderson. "Even though this system didn't provide a huge relief, we're not turning our back on it — every little bit helps."

Meteorologists said the storm dumped 10 to 15 inches of rain on parts of Mississippi, but it produced less rain as it moved north, with parts of Arkansas getting 2-6 inches.

The rain over Mississippi and Louisiana didn't help the lower Mississippi much, as rain flowing from the north creates the most impact on local levels; unfortunately that part of the country has also been gripped by drought this year.

Anderson said the MVD is assessing how much rain accumulated in the Kentucky Barkley Reservoir, which borders Livingston and Marshall counties in Kentucky.

"Depending on how much the water raised there after Isaac, we might be able release water into the Mississippi River if it continues to approach record lows."

An Associate Press article earlier this week stated that the river could rise as much as 2 feet in Vicksburg, a key gauge, in the coming weeks.

"But it's going to start going down again if we don't get more rain," said Kavanaugh Breazeale, a corps spokesman. "Basically, it's a Band-Aid for a gashing wound."

Breazeale said a huge dredge is working around the clock near Greenville to keep the shipping channel open at a spot where barges have run aground.

Groundings have forced the Coast Guard to temporarily close the river to barge traffic, and that can cost the shipping industry millions of dollars.

National Weather Service river forecast readings marked the Arkansas City gauge at -0.9 feet on Wednesday morning.