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Mississippi River so low that ship crews have to work to avoid grounding out (video)

October 24, 2023   WAPT-TV

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VICKSBURG, Miss. — The Mississippi River in Vicksburg is the lowest it’s been since 1988. The drought has dropped the river there by 10 feet since Sept. 1.


Crew members from ships traveling the Mississippi River are being shuttled on shore, and they said on the river, the job of ship navigation is getting harder.


“It is really rough; a bunch of low spots,” said chief engineer Jaquatte Deavens. “It is kind of an all-hands-on thing because you have really got to watch out and prepare for grounding at any time.”


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dredging vessels moving up and down the waterway trying to remove dangerous spots like sandbars that are becoming more visible at bends of the river.


“They are having to take more trips because they are having to load barges as much, or as near as many barges. Draft restrictions, load restriction — those things are now in place by the Coast Guard and self-imposed by the industry,” said Drew Smith, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


That impact is being felt at the Port of Vicksburg, where they are down to using one dock to on- and offload cargo because the water is so low. The financial impact could be in the millions. And they’re not alone.


“We already see some of our sister ports in the north asking if they can move things down south here in Vicksburg because those ports are being affected first,” said Warren County Port Commission Executive Director Pablo Diaz.


The Corps of Engineers is hoping for some rain north of Mississippi to come sometime soon, but what happens to the north in areas like the Ohio Valley takes weeks for the water to reach downriver in Vicksburg.