Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Mississippi River Flood of 2011

I was born in the Mississippi Delta, and for the first nine years of my life, the Delta was my home.  My father and his parents lived there before I was born.  Fortunately, however, my grandparents and their young son were still living in the hills of Attala County, Mississippi when the most destructive flood in the history of this country wreaked havoc in the vast and fertile farmland known as the "The Delta."  But it did not matter where one lived in Mississippi During the Great Flood of 1927 to remember the tragic event that took the lives of so many and changed forever the lives of others.  Even now, I still recall the stories my grandparents told me about the flood while I was still a child.

My family no longer lives in the Delta, and most of my relatives now live in areas that are likely to remain high and dry.  But my heart goes out to all those in the flood areas throughout the country who have already lost their homes, their crops, and their jobs.  In Tunica County, Mississippi, once the poorest county in what was then the poorest state in the country, the largest employers are casinos that are now closed because of the flood.  Not only are many residents of the area without jobs, but they are also homeless and living in Red Cross shelters until the waters recede.  What happens after that remains yet to be seen. 

It breaks my heart to see the old train station in Vicksburg, a grand and historic landmark, sitting in murky brown flood water.  But as my grandparents and parents, too, told me years ago, the mighty Missisissippi River "giveth and taketh away," facts that are true and often sad. While the river has created thousands of acres of fertile farmland over the years, and has been responsible for the creation of all kinds of jobs for those who live near it, one massive flood like the one this year can destroy everything in its path, including precious human lives.

What happens next to the historic river ports of Mississippi and Louisiana, their residents and their land and livelihoods, still hangs in the balance.  We can only hope and pray for the safety of the people who call these places "home."

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