Mississippi River still on the rise

By Michael Kunzelman

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 21 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

"The waiting game is worse," she said. "This right now is mentally tormenting, this slow rising."

It was a different story in Vicksburg, Miss., where residents wanted to know Saturday when the water would finally recede. On Saturday, Chris Lynn fired up his small aluminum boat and traveled about a mile to check out his father's house. The home sits on a 15-foot mound of dirt on the Mississippi River's banks, much like an island in the murky water.

"It looks like the water has come down about 2 inches," Lynn said, grabbing his cell phone to call his 73-year-old father with the news. "That's good. The floor is starting to dry out."

Sections of Vicksburg that have been flooded for weeks remain swamped Saturday with water higher than some mailboxes and street signs and up the roofs on some homes.

Even though the Mississippi River is slowly falling, it is still so high that water is backing up into its tributaries, especially the Yazoo River.

Marty Pope, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said Saturday that the Yazoo River is not expected to crest until Monday at Yazoo City and two days later at Belzoni.

Pope said that means while floodwaters are going to recede in some areas, they will continue to rise in others.

"I'll be glad to see that water start surging the other way," Pope said.

The weather service predicted Saturday that an inch or more of rain would fall in Louisiana in the coming days while five to six inches of rain was expected upriver in Illinois and Indiana. As that water flows down the Mississippi, it could also slow the receding of floodwaters in southern states.

Back in Butte LaRose, Tommy Girouard, 57, and his brother, Keith, 53, are hunkering down to ride out the flood on Tommy's 60-foot house boat. Girouard said he is staying to protect his $150,000 investment in the boat.

"It's safe on here," he said. "It shouldn't be a problem. Just tightening and loosening ropes, we should be fine."

The brothers stocked up on 400 gallons of gas and bought enough food to last two months.

"How many boxes of fudgicles? Eight boxes?" he asked his brother.

Sheriff's deputies and National Guard troops knocked on his door Thursday, warning him about the evacuation that has since been temporarily lifted and telling him to sign a form that says he understands the risks of staying.

"Didn't read it. Wasn't interested," Girouard said. "I can't just walk away from this."

The brothers parked a car and left a boat and two canoes on the other side of a levee. They hope to be able to come and go if need be.

"I can go get out the back way where they won't even know," Girouard said. "Worst comes to worst, we'll just untie and take off."

One of the few who vowed to ride out the floodwaters was Randy Moncrief, 50, a retired tug boat captain who planned to stay in his family's camp along the canal so he could watch his neighbors' property.

"I ain't here to prove a point," he said. "I'm just here to pass along information. That's harder than anything — the not knowing."

Moncrief's father was building the camp in 1973, the last time the corps opened the Morganza floodway. He said the floodwaters didn't even reach the foundation of the home.

A neighbor gave him a camera to take pictures of the flooding for an insurance claim. Another paid him for cell phone minutes so he can call in updates. Somebody even gave him a sack full of shotgun shells to kill the snakes slithering through the area. He's already killed about six of them, payback for the water snake that bit his hand on Wednesday, sending him to the hospital.

"The water is up. It's making them run for high ground," Moncrief said, showing off the bite marks on his swollen hand.

Associated Press writer Holbrook Mohr in Vicksburg, Miss., contributed to this report.

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