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By HOLBROOK MOHR
CARTER (AP) â Ed Jordanâs family has worked these fertile fields for four generations. Theyâve survived droughts, tornados and, yes, even floods. Theyâre not the kind of people to pack up and run from nature, but thatâs what theyâre doing this time.
This community north of Yazoo City is about 35 miles from the Mississippi River, but floodwaters from swelling tributaries are slowly swallowing the land between here and Vicksburg, especially along the Yazoo River.
Jordan (pronounced JERâ-din), pointed to a high-water mark about 7 feet high in the familyâs old general store left by the deadly flood of 1927. Floods have taken crops since then, but the Mississippi River hasnât swamped their homes in generations.
Heâs afraid it will happen this time.
âWe have 400 acres of beautiful wheat thatâs almost ready for harvest. We have about an 1,000 acres of corn thatâs chest high and just waiting on a combine (to harvest it). Thatâs going to be gone,â Jordan said. âI donât know what is going to happen to our houses.â
Just down the road, relatives helped Jordanâs 87-year-old aunt, Katherine Jordan, pack up a house that was moved here from Yazoo City in 1961. They loaded the furniture on a cotton trailer and prepared to head to higher ground. A tractor outside scrapped dirt from a wheat field to form a levee around the house.
Ed Jordan said he leased a house on higher ground and will live there until the water goes down. His aunt is going to live with her sister, Charline Killebrew, 84, in âtown,â nearby Yazoo City, where the Delta flatlands meet the central Mississippi hills.
Katherine Jordan remembers another bad flood, in 1973. Back then, she would wake up every day and look out the kitchen window to see how close the water had come.
It never got the house. Sheâs not sure sheâll be so lucky this time. Thatâs why she moved everything that sits lower than chest high.
âJust pray. Thatâs all you can do,â Katherine Jordan said. âYou get to the point where you just do whatever you can do, whether itâs right or wrong.â
Officials said the area could start going under water by this weekend.
Scott Haynes, 46, estimates heâll spend more than $80,000 on contractors to build levees around his house and grain silos, which hold 200,000 bushels of rice that he canât get out before the water comes.
Heavy equipment has been mowing down his wheat fields to get to the dirt that is being used to build the levees.
âThat wheat is going to be gone, anyway,â Haynes said. âWe donât know if weâre doing the right thing or not, but we canât not do it.â
Haynes said at least 9,000 acres of his 10,000-acre farm is expected to flood.
He knows time is not on his side. âIâve got to get back on that dozer,â he said, before walking away.
Similar scenes are playing out all through the Mississippi Delta. People who can afford to are building protective levees around homes and businesses. Others are just taking what they can and getting out.
Harry Simmons, 60, has owned Simmons Farmed Raised Catfish, a fish farm and processing plant for 30 years.
He was wrapping a levee around his home, business and about 400 acres of catfish pounds. Heâs trying to protect the core of the catfish ponds and will move the fish from unprotected waters to the ponds inside the levee heâs building.
âWeâve been at it for over a week. The closer to the time the water arrives, the more frantic it will get,â he said.
Corps spokesman Ben Robinson uses a traffic analogy to describe why this area will get wet, comparing the Mississippi River to a major interstate during rush hour and Yazoo River to a side road.
âOnce the traffic gets backed up, itâs going to spill onto the side road,â Robinson said.
In other words, the water is so high in the Mississippi that the Yazoo is a backing up.
Closer to the Mississippi River, an area known as the Yazoo Backwater levees is expected to overtop, as designed, as the water gets higher. That alone is expected to flood more than 430 square-miles, Robinson said. Workers are topping those levees with plastic to keep them from eroding.
âThat is designed to relieve pressure on the mainline levees,â Robinson said. âThe system is working exactly as it was designed to.â