Preservation related news around Mississippi was light since our last round-up, which would normally mean Malvaney would catch us all up on the blogosphere. Instead, however, one of our friends at MDAH, Vicki Myers, is giving us at MissPres some insight about how they are preparing for the coming flooding.
Although we all have seen the news about the rising waters in the Mississippi River, only this past week has Mississippi started to really see the water coming up and begin preparations for the record flooding predicted. We have been looking at the prediction maps provided by NOAA and the Army Corp of Engineers to know what communities will likely be affected and reaching out to our contacts in those areas.
Right now, a lot of focus is on getting library holdings, museum collections, and county records to higher elevations. Many of the institutions taking these steps are doing so as a precaution in the event that the worst-case scenario occurs. Any damage to structures themselves will be assessed after the waters recede and we can get staff on the ground to survey the damage. All of the counties that border the Mississippi have already been declared Federal disaster areas – which means that FEMA will be able to provide assistance to those affected. Hopefully, the Section 106 Reviews we do for these projects will be repairs and not demolitions.
Mostly we are relying on communications from our local contacts to help us know what will be (and, once the waters start to recede, what has been) affected. Some areas and structures we already know will be directly impacted:
- Grand Gulf in Claiborne County has moved its collection to higher ground because the river will flood their main museum building and the outbuildings that house the various vehicles in their collection. I visited on Thursday and saw how close the water already was to the park – it had not covered the access road yet, but it likely has by now.
- News reports tell me that both Tunica and Friars Point, are on the cusp of their crest date, although I have not had any direct word on water in any historic resources in those communities.
- Wilkinson County is preparing historic buildings in Fort Adams so that they will not float off their foundations and topple over.
- Natchez is trying to protect properties on Silver Street with a levee, but does not expect the water to affect too many homes in the rest of the city.
- Greenville is expecting their huge levee to protect the city.
- Sharkey County is also preparing for high water as the Yazoo River also backs up because the Mississippi is so high. On a visit to Rolling Fork on Tuesday, the fear was that the county seat would see very high water – including covering Highway 61. I heard that the projections since then brought better news, but they are still expecting flood waters, and see Sunday’s Clarion-Ledger article about what to expect if the Yazoo Backwater Levee breaks.
- Finally, Vicksburg has been working to set up the “as needed” levee wall that connects the wall with the murals along Levee Street with the natural rise that leads up to Washington Street. Unfortunately, this wall is south of the Levee Street Depot that is currently undergoing renovations. Below some of the pictures I took last week as a couple of us stopped in Vicksburg. They are expecting about 3 feet of water in the Depot.
Categories: Delta, Greenville, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, Rolling Fork
Though distressed about the potential flood impact on renovations at the Vicksburg depot building, I am cheered by the anthemion emblem at JRGordon’s tag line – unless my eyes deceive me, that is the Melrose front portico balustrade!
I’ve often wondered if there isn’t a way to syphon the water from the floods into some type of “water harvesting” so that when we have the droughts that will occur again, we can keep the fields watere, keep growing the food that is needed, and keep the farmers in business. I’m sure I’m naive and it has something to do with the health of the water, but it just seems like we could figure out a way to take this tragic situation and turn it into something positive. I will keep all in my thoughts and prayers as they get through this tough time. As for the paper records, I hope they find a safe, dry place for them, I’ve seen what can happen to our history when these things that came before our computer age are destroyed.