HELENA-WEST HELENA --- Phillips County Judge Don Gentry has announced an intergovernmental council meeting to be held tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. in the Chancery (Small) Courtroom on the 3rd Floor of the Phillips County Courthouse. The current criminal court term is underway, therefore parking may be an issue.
This meeting is expected to have in attendance all of the parties necessary to affect a plan. The judge expects members from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, all mayors within Phillips County, all school superintendents or a designated representative, the Office of Emergency Services and representatives from Durham Bus Services and Mid Delta Community Services' Transportation Division. Judge Gentry has assured The Scoop that "we have a plan; this meeting is to announce what it is and reassure the public." Judge Gentry explained that the highest point, above sea level, is "in the Barton area, near the high school." Judge Gentry believes that all school districts will work with the community in the event of a need to use school facilities for shelter.
The Central High School Gymnasium was used, several years ago, for a shelter for Helena residents who were evacuated because of a fire at the Scoular facility which sits on the banks of the River at the east end of Arkansas Street. District and city officials acted quickly to set establish that shelter as there was little warning or prep time.
The Mississippi River has been above flood stage for several days and is not expected to crest or reach its highest flooding point until Thursday, May 12, 2011. When the river crests, it will have attained a height of 56.5 feet which is 12.5 feet above flood stage which is 44 feet. The river will then begin to recede at a slow pace.
Several precautions have already been taken in this area. The Sea Wall (Levee Wall) gate has been closed. The Walker Street Levee gate has been closed. The community has been placed on high alert via various media outlets including social media like Twitter and Facebook.
A growing concern has been expressed repeatedly by citizens wanting to "hear" from their leaders. In Memphis, Mayor A. C. Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, have been continuously informing citizens. The emergency planning personnel have established a website to keep the public informed. Evacuation notices have been issued and heightened police patrols have been ordered.
By contrast, our leaders have been mute.
The public is invited to attend this meeting on tomorrow to hear from local officials on the plan going forward.