Yazoo County Prepares For Floodwaters To Peak

Originally published on May 12, 2011 6:31 am
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People in Yazoo County, Mississippi have been watching the levies in their area. County supervisor Van Foster says if you pay a visit to one, you may encounter an awesome sight.

VAN FOSTER: When you get over to the west side of town and get up on the levy and look to the west, a lot of areas look like a small ocean. It's just water for days.

INSKEEP: There's water like this because the county lies along the Yazoo River. It's a tributary of the Mississippi River, but at times like this, amid near- record spring floods, the Mississippi briefly becomes a tributary of the Yazoo.

FOSTER: The Yazoo River flows into the Mississippi River. And when the Mississippi River reaches its flood stage at Vicksburg, Mississippi, it backs up into the Yazoo River, and the Yazoo River fails to run the southern direction. It backs up, and we've had massive evacuations over in the delta and just enormous crop losses. You know, the corn is up like 18 to 24 inches in height, and I was in some places yesterday where the corn, at 24 inches, is already under water.

INSKEEP: And flood waters are not expected to peak for another week.


John Michael Pillow is a farmer in Yazoo City. His farm has so far escaped flooding because it's protected by levies. But the rising waters will likely spill over those levies in the next few days and could destroy the almost 3,000 acres of his corn on his land.

JOHN MICHAEL PILLOW: It's surreal. It's hard to believe, because for the last two weeks, we've had just bluebird skies, just gorgeous weather. Even on my farm, I mean, I'm standing here, and it's bone dry and, you know, I've seen these inundation maps that people have created for me. It's just hard to believe that, you know, water will be where it's going to get to.

MONTAGNE: Now, Yazoo County has bounced back from disasters before, including massive tornadoes that have ripped the area in recent years.

INSKEEP: A flood like this is a different kind of disaster. People have had time to prepare, but, of course, that also means they must wait to find out what happens.

MICHAEL PILLOW: It's going to be awful. This is going to be just a tragedy, and people losing their homes. But most of the potential flood victims have said, you know, we're so thankful that we've had two weeks to prepare. We've had time to move our stuff, to build levies, to move equipment, to take care of people that need to be taken care of, and I think that's kind of the feeling now.

INSKEEP: That's John Michael Pillow from his farm in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.