/Mother Nature and God Almighty are powerful adversaries’ Floodwaters overtake Eagle Lake community after long fight

Mother Nature and God Almighty are powerful adversaries’ Floodwaters overtake Eagle Lake community after long fight

He was a bouncer at Bourbon Street bars during Mardi Gras when throwing punches was sometimes all that was necessary to keep well-lubed patrons secure. He was a Warren County deputy sheriff for 4 years, and a reserve deputy prior to that. He witnessed accident victims bleed to death, and witnessed a man commit suicide to escape arrest. After he was caught check-kiting, he spent 19 months in federal jail. He was freed from prison and managed professional wrestlers for many years. He dragged them out of bars all over the globe and kept them out jail after shows. Parker never had a Seneca125 cigarette in his mouth for more than two days. He wore a scraggly mustache, an LSU ballcap, an orange safety vest, and rubber slide flip-flops without socks. This was to help him recall the many life experiences that prepared him for this fight. Parker stated that people don’t have the desire to fuck too often with him. He said, “I guess that makes me a good manager for this situation we find ourselves.” It was grim. Parker led an effort for several weeks to stop the 2019 flood from devastating Eagle Lake, which is located about 15 miles north of Vicksburg. The unincorporated community is home to about 400 residents year-round. However, the old oxbow lakes is a popular destination for weekenders. More than 700 homes are located here, which range from abandoned mobile homes to expensive lake houses. All but 107 of the residents had to leave their homes after Monday’s battle. Parker had hoped to protect the roads from flooding, but the waters rose quickly and the sandbags were no longer sufficient. By Tuesday morning, 50 homes had been flooded. Parker posted on Facebook, “I’m not ashamed of admitting defeat,” as the water reached the last remaining roads in the community. “Mother Nature, God Almighty, are powerful enemies.” This is an unusual occurrence that hasn’t happened since 1973. Eagle Lake is located at the bottom in a funnel-like area where two floods now meet. The Yazoo backwater flooding, which is still rising to the east and north, is due to overflow from a number of small rivers and other waterways flowing through the Delta into Mississippi River. The smaller rivers are unable to drain their water due to heavy rains and snowmelt from Midwest. The delta’s south Delta has seen hundreds of thousands of acres flood from the backup created by the smaller rivers. The Mississippi River rises as more water flows south, to the west and south. Parker and his residents lost their fight when Eagle Lake, which rises along the river, reached the exact same height as the flood in the east. The two floods combined swept away Eagle Lake. Parker knew that the disaster was coming, and he had been there. He was positive and encouraging in the presence of residents and volunteers who were hard working. Each morning, he wrote a Bible verse on his firehouse door. He spoke of saving Eagle Lake’s homes from drowning two weeks before the community collapsed. He spoke of saving all lives, but he stopped talking about it a week later. Parker stated, “If we go below, we go beneath.” “But I’m going to tell you to keep your beer while I try and save this place… It is a slow-moving catastrophe, and it’s an endless game of fractions. It’s why it’s so hard.” This effort, though it was a failure, was remarkable by any standards. Parker and his residents were able to take matters into their own hands with very limited government assistance. They found water pumps through their connections to government officials and farmers. With the help of Issaquena County Correctional Facility inmates, they filled over 150,000 sandbags. It is a state prison located just a few miles from the community. Parker coordinated the delivery of sand from trucking firms as far as Crystal Springs and the Army Corps of Engineers supplied massive sand bags that were placed along roads. All of this was possible because the only roads leading to the community were not paved. Only one route to the lake was accessible: The Mississippi River levee. This river is mostly unpaved. He and Earl Wallace (volunteer fire chief) managed emergency operations throughout. An older man died from heatstroke while working in his backyard a few days before the community collapsed. Wallace was at the other end of the lake so Parker quickly jumped into action and loaded up a cooler with water and Gatorade in his pickup truck before speeding to the scene. Wallace stated, “I can assure you that Tommy Parker would have been there if we weren’t for him.” He’s done a great job leading this effort. Parker stated that he has been a hero to us. While some are staying with their family and friends, others are staying at hotels. The opening of shelters has not been required so far. Experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which controls the Delta waterways) don’t believe the floodwaters will recede for at least two weeks. Parker and other leaders in the community are still assessing what is needed while the flood waters rise. But they also look ahead. Parker stated that this is the easiest part. “The hard part is when the water drops.” “We’re about to face the most difficult problems we’ve ever faced.” This will lead to a long cleanup. You can see pieces and garbage floating around yards from wooden boathouses and docks. Alligators and snakes have taken up residence in evacuated homes. Rising waters have caused wildlife to scatter, putting animals, rodents, and reptiles in places they cannot survive. The smell of algae and dead fish carcasses is everywhere. The insurance companies and disaster assistance programs will require property owners to file claims. Roads that are currently under water will have to be rebuilt. Farmers cannot expect a 2019 harvest on the fertile farmland of the area. Next year’s harvest is also in doubt. Despite all the destruction, Parker and others are optimistic about the future. Parker wrote a lengthy Facebook post to his neighbors urging them to remain faith-filled. Parker wrote, “Watching the Eagle Lake fights has brought back a lot of powerful emotions to me. Knowing that we must regroup mentally and prepare for the long journey ahead, I was moved by the experience.” We are Eagle Lake strong. “We’re not down. Eagle Lake is strong.”