The Mississippi River crested at more than 4.3m above flood stage in Vicksburg on Thursday, a slightly lower than expected level that eased worries about water potentially spilling over a nearby levee and inundating thousands more acres of farmland.
But officials warned that the flood was by no means over. The river was expected to stay at its crest for several days before beginning a long, slow retreat.
It could remain above flood stage until mid-June.
“The crest is by no means the end of it,” said Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District commander Col. Jeffrey R. Eckstein.
Authorities had been worried for days that water might spill over the Yazoo Backwater Levee north of Vicksburg.
But because the water was not expected to rise any higher, they did not expect to evacuate any more people. Some 2,000 city residents have already been forced from their homes.
Also on Thursday, authorities reported the first person to die in Mississippi floodwaters since the mighty river began climbing out its banks last month in the Midwest − a 69-year-old man who apparently collapsed in the high water.
At least eight deaths in Arkansas have been attributed to flooding, but all of those happened in flash floods or Mississippi tributaries.
Each year, near the beginning of high-water season, the corps mails about 1,000 notices warning property owners and others with interests of the possible use of the spillway.
This year, a second notice went out on May 6, as the likelihood of the spillway’s opening increased, corps spokesman Ricky Boyette said.