The Flooding of Mississippi State

The region has always been subject to flooding. It is actually formed of land that has been created on soils that have been deposited by various rivers in times of flood. The two major geographical features that have formed the state are flood plains and a delta. The area is also susceptible to violent thunderstorms, in the shape of tornados and hurricanes. These huge storms are capable of producing large amounts of rainfall in a relatively short period of time. These natural reasons have for centuries resulted in the flooding of the area. In recent years the introduction of man into the region has only made the flooding more severe.

Levees struggling to contain the Mississippi

The first settlers in the area wanted to farm the land so they removed the natural hard wood forests. These trees used to take water out of the water table by feeding on it through their roots. The roots also bonded the soils together, so their removal has resulted in greater soil erosion. The initial clearing of the trees in the 19th century resulted in many floods such as 1865, 1867 and 1882. The fighting from the civil war also damaged many river banks and in 1879 the Mississippi River Commission was created to manage the river.

Many laborers were hired to build up and strengthen the levees. They were built up to an average of 7 feet but even as they were being constructed they were still be breached in times of heavy rainfall as was the case in the 1882 flood. After the major floods in 1912 and 1913 the levees were once again raised to a new height of 22 feet. There were many problems associated with the creation of the levees. The Mississippi is the 4th longest river in the world and along its routes it passes through many human settlements. Many of these areas have also tried to stop the river from flooding, and this has led to a situation where more and more water is entering the channel as the river has entered Mississippi. The volume of water within the Mississippi River over the years has increased.

The floods near Yazoo City 2011

Another problem is that over time the land has benefited from being annually flooded as the river used to deposit huge amounts of settlement that had built up the land. The removal of this regular source of sediment has had a negative influence on the land. If the land had been left alone for long enough more deposited sediment would have raised the land higher and denser forest growth would have resulted in less flooding. This cycle now has been removed for the foreseeable future and the reality is that millions of dollars are now spent each year trying to protect the state from flooding. Recent events have shown that despite major advancements in technology there are occasions when man simply can’t stop nature.

In 2011 there was severe damage across the state when the River Mississippi flooded. The problem was exacerbated as tributary rivers, such as the Yazoo also flooded as their waters backed up, and flooded, as they couldn’t flow into the already full Mississippi. The heavy rainfall caused these problems, and this was also the case when the river flooded in 2016. Recent experience has shown that controlling the Mississippi is a problem that will never be properly fixed. The biggest issue is that the power of nature is uncontrollable, and the most severe events will result in the river having to carry too much water for the rivers banks. However, flood events are less frequent than they were, and man has now produced emergencies plans to deal with these events when they do occur.

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