Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2011

Levees said safe despite fast waters

By Billy Davis

A spokesman for the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Levee District said nearby rivers Coldwater and Little Tallahatchie are adequately holding water despite floodwaters from two days of pounding storms.

The spokesman, Jamie Roberson, also decried reports that the levees had been breached by rising floodwaters.

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“That is not the case,” Roberson said. “The levees are doing what they’re designed to do.”

Roberson, of Batesville, is employed as emergency management director for the levee district.

He said the Miss. Emergency Management Agency reported — wrongly — on Wednesday, the second day of storms, that waters were overtopping the Coldwater.

An inspection of the levee, by Roberson and others, disproved the report.  

Waters at the Coldwater River were 15 feet from “freeboarding,” or reaching the top of the levee, and water levels were already receding after the storms, Roberson reported.

A smaller six-foot-high levee had been topped at Indian Creek, south of Crenshaw, and flooded farmland, he also said.

Roberson also said he has inspected the Little Tallahatchie where its water level is as much as 18 feet from the top of the levee.

Daniel Cole, Panola County’s EMA director, said he had also inspected the Little Tallahatchie south of Crowder.

“I drove five or six miles down the levee,” Cole said. “It’s more water than I’ve ever seen it but it’s fine.”

The levee district’s assurance comes at the same time state and federal officials expect the Mississippi River to reach its flood stage this weekend.

The river is expected to crest in mid-May at Tunica, Bolivar, Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez.

MEMA prepared the flood charts for a Thursday press conference held by Gov. Haley Barbour. The Mississippi is expected to rise three feet higher than floods in 2008, he said.
Roberson said officials are closely inspecting the 100 miles of levee overseen by the levee district.