Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sid Salter: 2019 Flood Worse than 1927?

In what would be his final studio album, the inimitable Mississippi blues legend B.B. King in 2008 covered the 1927 Bessie Smith classic “Backwater Blues” in a style that made the heartbreaking tune all his own: “I climbed up on the high lonely hill, Oh, I climbed up on the high ole lonely hill; And I looked down at the house; Baby, where I used to live.”

While forever associated with the Great Flood of 1927, Smith actually wrote and recorded the song two months prior to the 1927 Mississippi River flood. Historians suggest that Smith may well have written the song about flooding of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee around the Christmas holidays in 1926.

But for thousands of Mississippians, no song old or new is sad enough to capture their current plight in the Great Flood of 2019 in the backwaters of the South Delta. Late in May at a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency press conference in Jackson and again last week at the Annual Meeting of the Delta Council, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant - a Morehead native and son of the Delta who knows the historical extravagance of the comparison better than most – called the current flooding worse than the fabled 1927 flood.

Is that hyperbole or a sad recitation of the facts? As the descendant of a family devastated by the 1927 flood in the Humphreys County hamlet of Midnight, I grew up listening to my mother’s stories of her experiences as a five-year-old girl who was sent out of Midnight to higher ground on a refugee train. “Worse than the Flood of 1927” is for those survivors an almost unimaginable standard.

But it appears that Bryant’s disturbing assessment is correct. From the standpoint of economic impact on the state’s agricultural production, Mississippi State University agricultural economists say making scientific comparisons of the region’s economy in the late 1920s with today’s Delta economy is extremely difficult.

But there is no question that region has been inundated with floodwaters since February and even with favorable weather, the Yazoo backwaters aren’t likely to drain until well into July. Some 540,000 total acres have been impacted with more than 250,000 acres of cropland that should be in production now underwater and unplanted.

Homes, businesses, churches, public building are flooded, all representing human miseries. Some of Mississippi’s and the nation’s poorest people are victimized by the flooding, as it was in my mother’s day.

Rather than a profitable year, most impacted farmers are hoping and praying for a break-even year. Even if they are able to plant late crops, yields will be impacted. Combined with the impacts of tariffs and other geopolitical influences, this is an extremely tough year to be a farmer in the Mississippi Delta.

Are the 2019 floods in Mississippi worse than the Great Flood of 1927? Perhaps. Certainly, it appears that the 2019 flooding will be of longer duration. It’s almost like drawing comparisons between the 1969 Hurricane Camille and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Both monster storms were different in their birth and makeup, but they were alike in their devastation. Experts give Katrina the nod as the larger and therefore more damaging storm in terms of raw damage and economic impact.

The more frightening aspect of the 2019 flooding is that these occurrences are becoming more frequent.

The 1927 flood displaced 600,000 people, killed at least 500, and covered a million acres with 30 feet of water. In 1993, Mississippi River flooding covered 20 million across in nine states and produced $20 billion in losses. Entire towns disappeared and some never rebuilt. The Upper Mississippi saw historic flooding in 2011 and again in 2018 as well.

Scientists identify the cause of increasing major floods as global warming and changes in the patterns of the jet stream.

Regardless the cause, the “backwater blues” is a malady that is literally on the rise in Mississippi and one that threatens the quality of life for South Delta residents and the substantial part of the state’s farm economy that those residents produce.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Swim Forest, Swim! said...

I'm extremely familiar with the current Delta situation. What Sid and other pundits always leave out of this 'comparison discussion' is the fact that the levee, near Scott, was breached in 1927, making it a sudden disaster.

What we have seen occurring, and continuing, since January is a creeping, rising, steadily continuing event with no end in sight. And now the conversation includes a comparison between shrimp boats and homes.

Anonymous said...

It would help if MEMA posted a current map of what's inundated. I can't find a link. Anyone out there know where it can be found?

Anonymous said...

No, its not worse

Anonymous said...

The below map shows approximately where water was at 98.5' in the backwater area (it's a little lower than that right now), but I waded through some of the white/"not flooded" area, so it's not completely accurate. The map also doesn't show the flooding to the east from the Mississippi backing up the Yazoo -> there should be a lot more blue between the levees and west of Highway 3 all the way north past Yazoo City.

Anonymous said...

Scientists identify the cause of increasing major floods as global warming and changes in the patterns of the jet stream.

ROFLMAO Tell the Chicoms Sid.

Anonymous said...

Sid Salter said: Scientists identify the cause of increasing major floods as global warming and changes in the patterns of the jet stream.


Following the Great Flood of 1927, the US Army Corps of Engineers was charged with taming the Mississippi River. Under the Flood Control Act of 1928, the world's longest system of levees was built. Floodways that diverted excessive flow from the Mississippi River were constructed.[12] While the levees prevented some flooding, scientists have found that they changed the flow of the Mississippi River, with the unintended consequence of increasing flooding in succeeding decades. Channeling of waters has reduced the absorption of seasonal rains by the floodplains, increasing the speed of the current and preventing the deposit of new soils along the way.


Terry said...

8:34 AM - what does the Chinese Communist Party have to do with delta flooding? You lost me.

Anonymous said...

Although the article is titled "...Worse than 1929", I presume it meant to say 1927. There is no comparison. Not in human terms, and in civilized societies human terms count most. The estimation of 500 dead is probably very conservative since there was no real count before or after the flood of the thousands of black field workers and migrant families who were killed or never accounted for. Many huddled on top of levees for months or were caught in the deep flood waters and drowned. Most who survived were made homeless and had no means of support for an extended time. Many used their permanent displacement as an opportunity to escape the Delta. "Escape" is an accurate term. The State government of Mississippi provided "relief" on a strictly racial basis and made the maintenance of the Delta plantation economy it's primary concern. The Great Flood was not only a tremendous natural disaster but another huge stain on the human history of Mississippi. Research the documentation of the event, then "compare" it's human impact to any natural disaster in American history. No comparison with 2019.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand the column. Is he talking about the depth of the water, the acres flooded, or the number of people killed? Even if Katrina were a Cat-2 hurricane wouldn't it be worse than a Cat-5 that hardly made landfall? What's the criteria?

Cheese sampler said...

Do you think paving the Costco parking lot is responsible for the increased flooding?

Anonymous said...

If global warming is causing this then why has it taken all these years for flooding to be worse than it was in 1927?

If Global warming caused Katrina what was it that caused all the previous devastating hurricanes that have been going on for centuries?

What was it that caused the ice to melt in the great lakes region? Was it something we did or just the natural cycle of the earth?

Anonymous said...

Do you think paving the Costco parking lot is responsible for the increased flooding?

They've got a real problem at that site for potential flows that exceed the capacity of the box under I55 ... and they know it.

Anonymous said...

The flat earthers are out in force today.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who incorrectly thinks this Mississippi flood is worse than in 1927 needs to read John M Berry's well written book "Rising Tide." It is hard to put down after beginning to read it.

Anonymous said...

Even if it's " the natural cycle of the earth", we should mitigate the consequences. Or, you could doom all of us to be like the dinosaurs.

The global warming research is not by ONE scientific community but many, including NASA and there isn't a credible scientist that has study the entire body of research that disagrees anywhere on the planet.

For centuries , scientists have known that polluting our environment could shortened life. For more than half a century scientists have been concerned about global warming . The borings in Artic accurately predicted the melting we are seeing now.

But, psychologists and neuroscientists also know that humans will believe what they want to be true despite the most compelling proof to the contrary. Only a good education can reduce your risk of self-delusion.

You keep reading that TV weatherman's drivel who became a meteorologist when it was easy instead of Stephen Hawking. God forbid you should check your sources credibility on a subject. Just hire a podiatrist to do your brain surgery.

Anonymous said...

30’ of water? Now that would have been something to see. Think Sid, think.

Rod Knox said...

How much money has been spent in recent years buying airplanes and ships and weapons not wanted by the Pentagon and often given to fair weather friends? How much money has been spent in the seemingly never ending conflict in the mid-east? We might compare the money wasted(?) on the environment and the money and lives wasted(?) on worsening the mid-east situation since 2001 and decide which was a more worthwhile waste.

Anonymous said...

Date: April-May 1927
Significance: Most destructive river flood in the history of the U.S.; 500 killed; 600,000 homeless
- The sheer landmass involved in this flood across Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, saw some 16 million acres of land (26,000 square miles) inundated with water from the mighty Mississippi. At Vicksburg alone, the river was 80 miles wide. This flood shifted the influence of flood policy in the U.S., which is still impacting us today. Everything — our levee policies, the way we engineer all of these things — was built out of what people learned from the 1927 flood.

Sid Salter is a teat sucking layabout that should NOT be making a living off of the taxpayer's hard earned money. It's truly amazing that he and all his liberal idiot friends can compare what people go through today with what people endured 90 years ago.....hell, they didn't even have air conditioning then....we wouldn't last a week. The stench of hundreds of thousands of dead livestock and animals alone in 1927 was more than anyone could they're fretting about the loss of their profits.

Anonymous said...

Everybody pause for a moment. Rod Knox has weighed in with comments about airplanes, the middle-east and the environment.

Anonymous said...

If you're serious about following the destruction in the lower Delta, this is the page to follow. It's accurate and updates on the hour. Otherwise, listen to the shit you hear at the barber shop.

Anonymous said...

12:08 PM Science is the work of the devil. It is a hoax that was started by liberals long ago which has led us to this awful time in history when transgendered Muslims are lurking in public restrooms trying to take away our flag and heritage.

Anonymous said...

Flat earthers?

Sid Salters…and leftist like him are the reason there’s climate change skepticism.

Sid…and most leftist journalist…regularly display their narcissistic arrogance…like in this particular case with their belief that people are too stupid to know the Mississippi Delta was a flood zone…LOOONNNG before the man made levees were ever built.

So, when people…even those with just an once or two of common sense read Sid’s quote that

“Scientists identify the cause of increasing major floods as global warming and changes in the patterns of the jet stream”

and know for certain that when man builds a wall on each side of a river that

“changed the flow of the Mississippi River, with the unintended consequence of increasing flooding in succeeding decades,”

i. e. the weather ain’t got nothing to do with this flood, in a flood zone, that was dried out by man via levees…well common folk get to thinking if the climate changers like Sid are either this dumb, or they feel the need to lie, there must not be any real climate change.

Anonymous said...

12:55- So at what point in the history of the earth do we "pick" what climate we want to live with?

You do know that Glaciers formed the Great Lake region, right? Should we have stopped this process and mitigated the changes then? There are people living on land that was once at the bottom of the ocean. There are ancient cities in the desert that once had plentiful water. Change happens.

The earth has always been in constant change. Seems odd that people would want to stop this from happening so they can keep their lake house.

Anonymous said...

Evil is what happens when good people do nothing: This blog is an instrument of Satan.

Rod Knox said...

I just can't seem to win 4:54. After going greats lengths to compare the waste in military spending to the waste in protecting the environment you wish to mock me. When making an effort to inform readers I try to remember there are 2 kinds of people in the world, 1. those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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