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In the Delta, a new flood brings back old fears

May 8, 2011 5:03:00 PM - thestate.com
As the crest in the Mississippi River rolls toward the heart of the Delta, the great flood of 1927 is on a lot of minds.

On April 21 of that year, an engorged Mississippi River broke through a levee a few miles north of Greenville, sending a wall of water down Main Street, forever changing this area's landscape. Homes were crushed, sharecroppers' farms were carried away, thousands were trapped on rooftops for days and hundreds died.

Residents in Greenville believe they are safe this time, but 75 miles south in Vicksburg, people wonder whether history will repeat itself. Near the site where the Yazoo River empties into the Mississippi, forming a wishbone-like shape, predictions are the water will overtop the tributary levees by more than a foot. Even worse, the levees could fail.

"All they done is put Visqueen (polyethylene sheet) there to stop the levee from being cut in two," said Larry Fuller, a wiry 65-year-old farm manager swapping news with neighbors at Chuck's Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, which sits in between Greenville and Vicksburg and is expected to be hard-hit. "We could lose the whole Delta if that levee breaks."

The situation is grave, but Gerald Galloway, a University of Maryland civil engineer and former Army Corps officer, said residents should have confidence in the main levees that hold the bulk of the river. However, he issued a stern warning.

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)