Nature’s Fury—the Impact of Climate Change in the US South DAY IX Monday

Double Jeopardy in Port Gibson?

The civil rights heroes and I reunited for a trip to Port Gibson, MS , county seat for Claiborne County, because of its current and impending flooding and because of a feared risk from the neighboring Grand Gulf Nuclear Station which is located practically on the banks of the Mississippi River.

As we drove into town, the first sight that struck us was the American Red Cross “operations” which consisted of a table, two chairs, and two young men sitting in front of City Hall. This became increasingly significant during the course of the day as we gained a growing understanding of the extensive existing needs which are sure to grow by several factors over the coming days.

In our conversation with the gentlemen, the first thing we found out was that the closest Red Cross shelter was 60 miles away in Natchez. For us, this was strikingly disturbing because, in a town where the average per capita income is $12,000 which is less than one third of the national average of $38,000, we questioned the capacity of flood stricken residents to journey 60 miles for shelter.

We also found out that there was a small shelter being operated by “TEAM” or “Mr. Doss”. We visited Mr. Doss who runs TEAM, a non-profit organization which had set up a 17 bed shelter.  When I suggested that he partner with Red Cross which has stated that they can provide beds and supplies to certified shelters, he laughed grimly stating that this was a non-starter. When I asked why, he cited a Red Cross rule which said that no Red Cross supported shelter can be within 7 miles of a nuclear plant.

At the shelter, Jesse Morris, Mr. Doss, NAACP Branch President Marvin

 
 

Bedroom at TEAM Shelter

We visited with several community residents to get a sense of existing impact and preparation of what is to come. We met an older lady whose community was already significantly flooded. The water was almost to her door and she had several sandbags in front of her door. As we listened with evident concern, she tried to reassure us by stating that she had another door on higher ground that she can escape out of if need be.  The Branch President is going to monitor and follow up if help is needed.

Ms. Boggs discussed threatening floods with Mr. Figgers and Branch President Marvin

 

Ms. Boggs protects her home as best as she can from the approaching water

 
 

The View from Ms. Boggs' Porch

 

 

We met another fellow on a block that was already inundated with water that had overtaken the road. He talked about how everyone was evacuating on his block, but he was upset because there was no prior notification to evacuate. Plus, he said he had requested, but received no sandbags, in spite of the obvious need. He said that FEMA had come out to do an inspection, so clearly officials were aware of the area and the imminent threat.

Home across the street from distressed gentleman

At Civil Defense, which runs the local Emergency Management Agency, we met with the Director, Mr. Ratliff where we discussed our concerns regarding the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. He stated that there is “zero chance of a breach” because the nuclear reactor is 137 feet above sea level and that the highest the river is expected to crest is at 107 feet.  He did, however, acknowledge the sheltering issue as a serious gap and cause for concern. He quickly referred us to Reverend Coleman for further questions. As we left we took note of the map, the documentation regarding the evacuation plan for Grand Gulf should there be a nuclear incident, and a poster Mr. Ratliff had in his office about the nuclear station.

Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Poster Adorning Mr. Ratliff's Wall

 

Map shows proximity between Grand Gulf Nuclear Station and Port Gibson

Reverend Coleman kindly took us to visit many of the sites that are flood affected, including the nuclear station.

Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Cooling Unit

 

Located near the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, this would be a beautiful sight, if it wasn't supposed to be a road.....

 
 

Reverend Coleman checks flood water measuring stick...it had risen a tenth of an inch in a couple of hours

 
 

A bleak picture for one Port Gibson Family

 

No choice but to stop

 
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