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Barbour wants disaster declaration ahead of floodwaters

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Gov. Haley Barbour has requested President Obama declare 11 counties along the Mississippi River as disaster areas in anticipation of major flooding.

The counties requested include Adams, Bolivar, Claiborne, Coahoma, Desoto, Issaquena, Jefferson, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Wilkinson. Other counties will be added as appropriate.

“The Mississippi River will reach historic levels over the next few weeks,” Barbour said. “Securing a disaster declaration now will allow the federal, state and local governments to coordinate efforts both during and after the flood. I urge any residents or property owners in the area to take the necessary precautions now and protect their property and their families.”

The governor is requesting aid through the Public Assistance, Individuals and Households program and direct federal assistance for the counties along the river.

In the meantime, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District (Corps), state officials, levee boards and local officials have begun preparations for Phase II flood-fighting efforts, which are expected to begin when the gage at Vicksburg reaches 49 feet.

Typical Phase II flood-fighting activities include: assigning more resources to monitoring the flood, such as looking for sand boils, levee seepage and slides; more frequent levee patrols with more people looking at smaller areas; and, working closely with the levee boards to share information on the current status of levees, providing technical assistance on how best to fight the flood.

The Corps, state officials, levee boards and local officials are closely monitoring weather and river conditions. The Vicksburg District’s Emergency Operations Center will coordinate with the state emergency management agencies in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi concerning any necessary activities.

The lands that will be affected by the high water are located along the Mississippi River with the main areas of impact expected to be between the levees. Additionally, some backwater flooding may occur in the area of the Yazoo River and behind the Steele Bayou structure north of Vicksburg.

The official forecasting agency for flood stages is the National Weather Service, and all gage heights are based on current readings and forecasts.

Additional rainfall could change these predictions, the Corps said.

Source: Governor’s Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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