31 May 2013 21:51 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--As the rain kept falling across the Mississippi river region on Friday, the situation on the crucial waterway is growing progressively worse.
Currently the US Coast Guard has closed the upper portion of the river between mile markers 22 and 35 after an overnight grounding of a barge vessel. According to a barge operator source, there were about 30 loads that were held up as authorities worked the accident scene.
No loss of cargo or injuries are being reported at this time and all barges have been accounted for, but as of Friday afternoon the complete closure of the channel was still in effect. Authorities were uncertain as to when it would be reopen to traffic.
Steady rains have caused the Mississippi to rapidly swell above the flood stages in the upper segments and with forecasters calling for more to fall, those who live along or operate on the river are going to face challenges.
Presently the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have closed three river locks and have said they are anticipating the closure of four more by the end of the weekend if the showers persist. It was not clear at this time when these locks would reopen, but the impact of this immediately hinders barge shipments that traverse the river carrying vital commodities such as grain and fertilizer.
Barge sources said some companies are already attempting to lighten loads in order to better navigate the high water levels and swifter currents.
National weather forecasts are calling for the river to get close to 10 feet above flood stage by this weekend in areas located north of St. Louis. More thunderstorms are set to unleash several more inches of rain on places that have seen consistent rain throughout May.
According to the USACE, nine levees were damaged in the last flooding incident in April and those areas have yet to be repaired. That raises the possibility that fields will be inundated from the over pour of the Mississippi.
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