A River Runs Beside Us

Hey y’all, 

I know before I get started that this isn’t going to be an easy post to write, but because of all of your caring emails, tweets, and facebook messagses, I’m determined to share a River update with y’all.  Yesterday evening my friend, Mike  Blakeney, took me up for a birds eye view of the swollen Mississippi. (Long-time readers/listeners know Mike as my radio producer and my handy dandy kitchen assistant.)

I’ll tell you straight up that I did a poor job with the documentary. For most of the ride, all I could do was stare until I would suddenly remember that I wanted to take pictures, at which point I would promptly spaz off a dozen of the same shot before falling back into my staring mode. I’ve weeded my efforts down to try and give y’all my best summation of the situation.

I chose to begin with this first shot because it shows the lush, fertile farmland of our Delta. If you know what to look for you can recognzie flooded fields in the distance, but I’ll show you some closer shots shortly. 

This would be as good time a time as any to let everyone know how we feel about some of the news reports we’ve heard explaining that say decisions are being made to protect larger populations at the expense of farmers.  We understand that none of the decisions that have been made or are being made in this historic situation are easy for anyone involved, and we believe those charged with handling it are doing their best to do what’s right for the majority of those living along the River. But none of that negates the tragedy of those who are losing their livelihoods.

My daughter-in-law, Carey spoke about this on her blog, Providence, and she expressed my heart so well, I’m just going to direct you there.  But just to make sure you see the particular paragraphs of Carey’s post that I’m referring to, I’m pasting them here, also:

Through this whole ordeal, I’ve heard many people talk about farmers and that they are a different breed. I would have to agree. No matter what you throw at them, they will always get back up and go again. Farming gets in your blood. It’s more than a job, it’s a way of life. It’s a culture that only other farming families can truly understand. Everyone knows that no matter how good or bad things look they can always turn on a dime.

I’ve heard a lot on the news lately about those “affluent farmers” losing their crops but that it was better than whole towns being lost. Now, I would never want to see anyone lose their homes or towns being destroyed but to insinuate that farmers can handle it or that they’ve got plenty of money to cover the loss is simply crazy & ignorant to me. I promise to only stand on my soapbox for a minute, but humor me 🙂 It takes a Great deal of money to make a crop and while on paper it may seem like that farmer has a lot, let me assure you that we only see a small fraction of the money it takes to run a farm. Also, as the water floods the land it can do damage to it and cut valleys and gulleys. This is land that farmers work a lifetime to try and level and pay off. In the blink of an eye, all that leveling is undone and the worth of your investment is questionable. So can I ask just one thing, as you watch the news and they casually mention that farmland is being flooded, please realize that’s not just land…it is someone’s blood, sweat, and tears; it’s someone’s life’s work, it’s someone’s way of life.

Well said, Carey!

That brings me to the the failure of our “old levee”. This is not the main levee protecting us from the River. It’s an earlier effort abandoned by the Corp of Engineers in the 1970’s when the main levee was built. The main levee is still holding, refortified daily with sandbags. We’re grateful for the prayer support for our main levee and the round the clock care being given it by our state and local officials with the help of the National Guard.

Sadly, the old levee was protecting 10,000 acres of choice farmland before it was topped, and then breached last week in an area we call The Bend. My heart breaks for the farming friends who watched as their beautiful, promising young stands were washed away. I borrowed these pics from Carey’s blog. (Because looking at this is one of the times I just rode in silence, staring.)

In the next few pictures you can see the main levee and three of our area’s grain elevators. Obviously, they are all usually sitting on dry ground!  The water crested today at 57.5 feet. The levee is graduated, with it’s highest point being 300 feet. You can see how near the water is to the top. It is expected to hang around for another couple of weeks. In other words, the River may have crested but it’s not time to quit praying…

It’s sobering. It’s awe-inspiring…

Here’s my attempt to label a shot of my hometown so you can see where we sit, where the River is, and how little ground remains between us.

In closing, I’ll hold my words and post some from the Good Book instead because we know and continue to worship the One who holds it all in His hands.

“From the rising of the sun until the time that it goes down, the name of the Lord shall be praised.” Psalm 113:3



About Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Known as The Belle of All Things Southern, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a national best-selling author, speaker, radio host, and columnist from Louisiana.
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3 Responses to A River Runs Beside Us

  1. Leslie says:

    Well done, friend.
    Lump in throat.

  2. Alice Cooper Gordon says:

    I read the article you wrote and really enjoyed it. I grew up on that farm land out there till I was 13 and then came back and lived there with my two children in the same old house that I had lived in. I and my daughter still on the land and we lease it out. When I saw the bend go all I could do was pray and believe in the one above. My Dad told me years ago even when I was young the river will come back someday to take what is hers and I guess he was right, now it’s up to God if we get it back. I also get upset when people say farmers are rich and they get all this money, they aren’t thinking about how much it cost for them to grow that food for them to eat, maybe after this people will appreciate the farmer more.

  3. Pingback: Update: What the Mighty Mississippi Did This Spring | Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

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