Mississippi Crests in Vicksburg, Claims First Life

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The Mississippi River crested at more than 14 feet above flood stage in Vicksburg, Miss. on Thursday, which was lower than expected.

However, local residents continue to worry about flood water potentially spilling over a nearby levee and inundating thousands more acres of farmland.

Officials have warned the river may stay above flood stage until the middle of next month.

"The crest is by no means the end of it," said Col. Jeffrey R. Eckstein, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' Vicksburg District.

Corps officials say they have the personnel ready to plug any leak or stop any breach.

Floodwaters also claimed the first life in Mississippi. Sixty-nine-year-old Walter Cook collapsed in the high water while apparently wading home. He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Farms and entire neighborhoods are underwater and the American Red Cross is supplying much needed shelter for thousands who have been forced from their homes.

"I kept telling myself, 'No, it's going to come up -- but it's not going to get my home because I never experienced anything like this before.' It's all new to me. Matter of fact, I never saw a neighborhood go under water," said Pat Wilson, a local flood victim.

"My daughter, bless her heart, put me in a hotel from Wednesday and hotels can get really expensive. So I told her that I would go to the shelter. So I arrived here last night," Vivian Taylor Wells, another flood victim, said.

Downstream in Louisiana, water continues to gush through the Morganza spillway. It was opened as part of a plan to protect Baton Rouge and New Orleans from the river. That move intentionally flooded part of Cajun country, including areas that rely on the fish and oil industries.

This year's flooding has tested the limits of Mississippi's $13 billion levee system. The river's water has risen to levels not seen since the 1920s.

 

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