MSNBC is reporting that floodwaters from the buldging Mississippi River and its tributaries are having their biggest impact on those with the least. Levees have protected urban areas but not smaller, and usually poorer, communities from the Delta area down into Louisiana. People used boats to navigate flooded streets as the crest rolled slowly downstream, bringing misery to poor, low-lying communities. Hundreds have left their homes in the Delta in the past several days as the water rose toward some of the highest levels on record.
The flood crest is expected to push all the way through the Delta by late next week.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour urged people to get out if they think there is even a chance that their homes will flood. He said that there is no reason to believe a levee on the Yazoo River would fail, but if it did, 107 feet of water would flow over small towns. "More than anything else, save your life, and don't put at risk other people who might have to come in and save your lives," he said.
The Mississippi Delta, with a population of about 465,000, is a leaf-shaped expanse of rich soil between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, extending about 200 miles from Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg, Miss. Along the way are towns whose names are familiar to Civil War buffs, aficionados of the blues and scholars of the civil rights era: Clarksdale, Greenwood, Greenville and Yazoo City.
While some farms in the cotton-, rice- and corn-growing Delta are prosperous, there is also grinding poverty. Nine of the 11 counties that touch the Mississippi River in Mississippi have poverty rates at least double the national average of 13.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The governor said that the state is asking local officials to get in touch with people who might have no electricity and phones and thus no way to get word of the flooding. "It's a tiny number, but we have to find them," Barbour said.
Why does it seem that those who have the least suffer the most? With all of this technology available, it would seem that measures would have been taken that allow people without phones to call for help during a disaster like this. We know, we know — it would probably cost the state and the government too much money. But what is the real cost when we fail to ensure that all Americans, especially the poor, have access to basic necessities that just might save their lives?
Read more at MSNBC.