A flood of Biblical proportions overtook more than a half-million acres of land in the rural Mississippi Delta for over five months in 2019. About half the acreage was farmland, causing devastating effects in region where agriculture is the lifeblood of the economy. For the first time on record, many farmers were unable to plant a single crop.
Efforts to prevent flooding in the region date back to 1941 when Congress approved a backwater drainage project. The multifaceted plan included a system of levees, canals and drainage structures. But one crucial element was never installed in an effort to protect a bordering hardwood wetland forest — drainage pumps that would push floodwater out of the backwater area and into the Mississippi River.
The changing climate in recent years has led to the perfect storm in this area — a historically high Mississippi River and record rainfall have created consistent flooding unimaginable to local farmers. Many residents are fearful of how this landscape will survive as changes become more drastic.