Yazoo Pump Project update headlines packed press briefing

In today’s press briefing, the conversation revolved around three subjects in particular: (1) the Yazoo Backwater Project, (2) Mississippi’s response, thus far, to COVID-19, and (3) the upcoming Mississippi State Fair.

As announced in the press conference, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has been assessing the damage induced by historic flooding in the Mississippi Delta and has started working on the production of an environmental impact statement.

According to U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, the report is “a very big step in getting this done” as it provides “evidence” as to why the project, which would provide aid in preventing future flooding, needs to be completed as soon as possible.

“Since I have been in the U.S. Senate, we have diligently worked on the Yazoo Backwater pumps, which has been going on, as [the Governor] said, for a very long time, but we have to substantiate the damage there,” Hyde-Smith explained. “This process includes the economic assessment of the projected benefits and the cost of the project of overcoming what we went through in the Delta—over half a million acres underwater for six months.”

To go further into that number a bit, the flooding, which most recently occurred from 2018 to 2019, damaged or destroyed over 700 homes, plus had a major impact on the state’s agricultural industry.

“The agricultural damage speaks for itself—over $800 million in direct loss in terms of crops,” Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson asserted after Hyde-Smith concluded her portion of the press conference.

Regarding the state’s ongoing response to the coronavirus outbreak, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, while he did commend people for their steady efforts, warned that Mississippians must continue to take the precautionary actions necessary if they want to see a slow of the spread.

“Do the simple things that work: wear a mask, stay six feet at minimum from other folks, small groups only,” Dobbs said. “We’d like to really encourage folks, if they’re going to be having any sort of gathering, please do it outdoors.”

Dobbs also mentioned that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued new guidance for nursing home visitation, which can be found here.

In one of the final topics addressed during the press conference, Governor Reeves said that, under his current mandate, the Mississippi State Fair would not be considered a social gathering.

“I think it’s more of a business operation than a social gathering,” Reeves said. “The revenues help fund the fairgrounds…We’ve got to live our life a little bit.”

The 2020 Mississippi State Fair is set to take place on October 7th through October 18th in Jackson.

To watch Friday’s press conference in its entirety, check out the video below.