First Death Reported in Mississippi Flooding

Man, 69, dies after being pulled out of water
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2011 2:32 PM CDT
Mississippi Flood: First Death Reported
Floodwater from the Yazoo River creeps across fields of crops near Yazoo City, Miss.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

(Newser) – The Mississippi River flood has its first casualty: Walter Cook, 69, died today after firefighters found him clinging to the top of a fence in chest-deep water yesterday, the AP reports. He was found in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the river is expected to crest today at 57.1 feet. Most residents have retreated to crowded shelters on higher ground, but the AP found one 38-year-old mechanic who circles his property in a small boat each day, marking the flood level on his shop.

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"My son died in a car accident a few months ago, so this ain't nothing," the mechanic said. "But for a lot of people, it is." In Louisiana meanwhile, the oil-and-seafood hub of Morgan City is bracing for waters that have been intentionally directed to it. The Army Corps of Engineers, in a bid to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge, opened the Louisiana floodgates this weekend, diverting the water toward the more sparsely-populated Cajun countryside. (Read more Mississippi River stories.)

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