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Delta Farmers Are Bracing For Losses

By Sandra Knispel | Published 17 May 2011 04:12pm | comments
Howard Brent's hunting lodge near Yazoo City is surrounded by floods, the first floor is already submerged.

With widespread backwater flooding and yet possibly more to come, Mississippi Delta farmers are bracing for substantial losses. MPB’s Sandra Knispel filed this report from the Delta.

[reporter: Do you have any idea how deep your driveway is under water at this point?] "Yes, It’s 7 feet at least right here," Brent says.

Howard Brent is surveying what looks like one gigantic lake, interrupted by thousands of small oak trees. To get to his business, he now needs a boat.

[Reporter: We’re basically now driving on your what?] " This is on my road right here, we're driving down the road. It's all flooded," Brent replies. "

The retired farmer is the owner of a hunting lodge near Yazoo City that sits on 4,600 acres of land. His lodge that can house 20 hunters is flooded on the ground level, with water already lapping at the second floor.

“It feels terrible. You know, I just never had any idea…. Flood insurance is not going to take care of me on this deal. Well, I’ve got flood insurance but it’s not going to be enough," Brent says.

The putrid smell of decomposing carcasses hangs over the water. Brent’s property encompasses the Whittington Auxiliary Channel levee. Here, game wardens have been culling hundreds of wild hogs that had sought refuge here, trying to escape the water. But by rooting around for food, the animals jeopardized the integrity of the levee. Now, they lie dead in the water or in the high grass of the embankment, others are entangled in submerged trees. Above, turkey vultures circle.

Over in Humphreys County, Ruffin Smith, a farmer and the mayor of the tiny town of Louise, isn’t happy either.

“I had lands on the unprotected side of the levee and I’ve had a wheat crop over there. It’ll be a complete loss," Smith says. "We’ve already sold those crops. Having already sold them we still need to have to deliver. So, that I either have to deliver wheat or a check to the buyer.”

Meanwhile, Todd Oglesbury from Chatham in Washington County is looking at a loss of around $100,000.

"I’ve got some soy beans that I planted last month and they’ve got seep water coming up through them now from water coming up through the ground from underneath the levee," Oglesbury explains. Just keeps the soy beens to wet and will eventually kill them.”

With thousands of acres of farmland already under water, and possibly more backwater channel flooding on the way, solid numbers won’t be known until the water has receded, says Andy Prosser, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture.

“Early predictions are [for] Mississippi we’re anticipating in terms of cultivated acres and row crop acres approximately 600,000 acres being flooded with a total acreage of everything, including forestry, cultivated crop land and other crop land in and around of 1.4 mio. acres,” Prosser says.

One thing is certain though, the aftermath of this flood will be felt in the Delta long after the flood waters have subsided.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Greenville.

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Howard Brent's hunting lodge near Yazoo City is surrounded by floods, the first floor is already submerged.


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