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The Latest: Swollen Mississippi prompts spillway opening

February 27, 2019

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on flooding in the South (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun opening a historic flood control structure west of New Orleans to divert water from the rising Mississippi River and ease pressure on levees that protect the city.

Cranes were used Wednesday morning to lift heavy wooden timbers from sections of the Bonnet Carre (BAHN’-eh CARE’-ee) Spillway structure. That allows some of the water from the rain-swollen river to flow through the structure and over a broad expanse of land into Lake Pontchartrain.

Wednesday’s opening of the structure marks the first time it has been operated in consecutive years. It’s the 13th time it’s been operated since construction was completed in 1931.

Plans to open the spillway were announced as the rate of flow at New Orleans approached 1.25 million cubic feet per second.

Rain-swollen rivers are spilling over their banks across the South.


10 a.m.

The Mississippi River is closed to navigation at Vicksburg, Mississippi, after a 30-barge tow struck a railroad bridge between the city and Louisiana as rain-swollen rivers are spilling over banks across the South.

Bridge superintendent Herman Smith tells The Vicksburg Post the MV Chad Tregrache, operated by Marquette Transportation of Paducah, Kentucky, struck the bridge just after 7 a.m. Wednesday.

U.S. Coast Guard officials say two grain barges sank, but no injuries were reported. Coast Guard officials are on site investigating.

The railroad bridge, owned by a local government commission and operated by the Kansas City Southern Railway, is also closed.

Tows frequently strike the bridge, especially when the Mississippi River is high. River levels at Vicksburg are rising and are predicted to crest later this month at one of the 10 highest levels on record.


7:10 a.m.

Rain-swollen rivers are spilling over their banks across the South, and a Mississippi mayor says water has surrounded his town and forced some families to leave their homes.

Forecasters say flood warnings were in place Wednesday in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

In Glendora, Mississippi, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported Wednesday that the town of 151 people is caught between the flooded Tallahatchie River to the north and the Black Bayou to the south.

Glendora Mayor Johnny Thomas says the water is within inches of covering U.S. Highway 49 in both directions.

Thomas says “I hope it doesn’t get worse. We’ve only got one way out of here.”

City workers filled sandbags Tuesday afternoon, and a shelter opened for those displaced.