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“If It Keeps Rainin'” – Backwater Flood documentary film in the works

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Newlyweds William and Cara Bristow, along with brother Carson Bristow, have become a common site in the South Delta.

 

Carson’s long hair, his fancy Hollywood-looking sound equipment and his tall thin stance are usually accented by a large-brimmed summer straw hat. He, William and Cara stand out among the conservative farmers and senior citizens that make up the bulk of those affected by the Great Backwater Flood of 2019. Since March, the Bristows have been filming the flood and its impact on the citizens of the South Delta.

William, behind the camera, and Carson Bristow (photo by Cara Bristow)

“It was unbelievable​.” As William made his way up the historic Highway 61, he was having trouble taking everything in. The troubling part was the fact that he had not heard one thing about the current condition of the state he called home. Mile after mile, field after field, it all looked the same: a never ending lake. Just when the water seemed normal, an abandoned farm house sitting in the middle of a field brought things back to reality.  This is not how this is supposed to be. 

After meeting up with a local farmer in Rolling Fork, Miss., the two went on a tour of the area, and William was given first hand information as to how urgent the situation was for the farmers of the lower Mississippi Delta. Fortunately, he had his camera with him, and he was able to film some of the catastrophe. After seeing the reaction of others when he showed them the flood footage, he decided he was going to tell this story. He immediately recruited the help of one of his greatest creative partners: his brother, Carson. It was in this context that “If It Keeps Rainin’ ” was born. The film name is inspired by the Kansas Joe McCoy song, “When the Levee Breaks.” – from the website of the film producers.

“The forgotten backwater—you can’t say it any better than that. That is what it is,” said Cara Bristow. “This is not OK. It’s not right. and we thought, you know, what can we do?”

What they did was start filming a documentary to show the world. They wanted to do it from the viewpoint of those affected by the flood. “As they navigate this crisis, we see their lives and link everything to it” said Producer William Bristow.

The lives of the flood victims have touched the film makers, as well. They spoke affectionately of Miss Peggy.

“Miss Peggy’s house is a total loss. She’s living in a camper. They’ve just found out that they are getting all the assistance they can get, ” said William Bristow.

“She remains so upbeat, so strong. Her faith carries her,” added Cara Bristow. But “we thought right now this … would be prime time for volunteers to be here and helping, and it’s like, where is everybody?”

The harsh reality of this flooding is that everyone showed up to help with sandbags. Now that the flood is over, there are some groups here to help, but not many. Team Rubicon was featured in the Vicksburg Daily News a couple of weeks ago along with the AmeriCorp kids. Local organizers are tying to find enough people to help to get Team Rubicon and their heavy equipment back to the South Delta, but at this time, there are not enough disaster reports turned in for Team Rubicon to return.

Regardless, “This community takes care of one another,” said Cara, to which Carson added, “My favorite part about this is when we’re filming on the side of the road and someone stops and says hey, my house is right here.” William completed the thought and said, “When you get done, come in and sit down for a second, grab a coke. That’s how we’ve met most of our characters. They’ll say, ‘have you met so and so?’ It’s just been a big snowball event.”

William Bristow and his camera in the hot and muggy Mississippi flood waters (photo by Cara Bristow).

The Bristow family is still filming and talking to folks affected by the flood, but they plan to wrap that up soon. By mid October they will be in post production and have their documentary film “If It Keeps Rainin'” out in January.

They want to do one of their first screenings at the Strand Theatre in Vicksburg. “The Strand has been very open about us coming to do that. That is very important to us. To have a communal feeling to it,” said Cara. “The goal would be to inform people. We want this to go national so people learn about this flood and that, maybe, gain support to stop this from happening again.”

A house in the South Delta surrounded by flood waters, dead animals with no place to go and a plea to finish the pumps.

@msfloodfilm

The title for the documentary was inspired by a recording from the Great Flood of 1927 by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, “When the Levee Breaks.

When the Levee Breaks

Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin’ ’bout my baby and my happy home
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
And all these people have no place to stay
Now look here mama what am I to do
Now look here mama what am I to do
I ain’t got nobody to tell my troubles to
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I ain’t got nobody, keep the water away
Oh cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do no good
Oh cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose
I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works on the levee, mama both night and day
I works so hard, to keep the water away
I had a woman, she wouldn’t do for me
I had a woman, she wouldn’t do for me
I’m goin’ back to my used to be
I’s a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
I’s a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan
Gonna leave my baby, and my happy home

 

 

 

Education

Alcorn State earns award for high rate of graduating student athletes

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(photo courtesy ASU)

Alcorn State University received the David M. Halbrook (traveling) trophy in the men’s division from the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities for its achievement in posting the highest percentage of graduating student athletes, marking the third consecutive year it has earned the distinction.

“It is an honor for Alcorn to receive the David M. Halbrook (traveling) Trophy award for the third consecutive year,” said Derek Horne, director of athletics, in a statement. “Alcorn strives to help all our student-athletes succeed athletically and academically, setting them up for future success in their respective fields.”

In addition to the Halbrook trophy, student-athletes Troymain Crosby and Jada Hargrove were recognized with the David M. Halbrook Certificate Award for Academic Achievement Among Athletes. The individual honors are given to student athletes who excel in academics, leadership and service.

“Receiving the Halbrook Award is an outstanding recognition of the hard work and efforts of Alcorn’s student-athletes,” said Cyrus Russ, assistant vice president for athletic compliance and academic services. “This recognition represents the dedicated efforts of Alcorn’s faculty, academic counselors and staff that work so diligently to ensure student success.”

The Halbrook Award for Academic Achievement Among Athletes was established in 1984 as a result of the passage of House Concurrent Resolution No. 88. The awards program is made possible through endowments from former Rep. David M. Halbrook of Belzoni, Mississippi, and his brothers, John C. and James G. Halbrook of Belzoni, and J. A. Halbrook of Beaumont, Texas, in honor of their parents, John C. and Ernestine McCall Halbrook.

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Butler named Community MVP by NFL Players Association

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Tennessee Titan Malcolm Butler (Photo by Chipermc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83245134)

Vicksburg native and Tennessee Titan Malcolm Butler continues his generous charitable giving in communities where he has lived and worked. In recognition, he was named the Community MVP for week 11 by the NFL Players Association.

Butler posted the news Wednesday on Facebook.

Butler graciously helped provide people in Nashville, Tennessee, with free COVID-19 testing and grocery gift cards, feeding about 600 families. He helped residents of his hometown, Vicksburg, by giving out grocery cards as well, while also donating $5,000 to the University of West Alabama’s hunger/pandemic fund relief. UWA is his alma mater.

The NFLPA thanked Butler on Twitter for his donation.

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COVID-19

Mississippi shatters its COVID-19 case record with 2,457 new cases, 28 in Warren County

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Mississippi shattered its one-day record for new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, reporting nearly 2,500 on the eighth day of more than 1,000 cases. The Mississippi State Department of Health reports that hospitalizations are nearing the July high of around 1,250. There are more patients with confirmed cases Wednesday than ever before in the state. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is over 1,600 per day, another record, with more than 11,000 new cases reported in the last week. The seven-day average high in July was around 1,360 for the week ending July 30.

Nationally, at least 2,607 people died of the virus Tuesday and 184,174 new cases were reported. While some progress in lowering case numbers has been seen in the Midwest, cases continue to surge almost everywhere else in the country. The number of people hospitalized across the nation is quickly approaching 100,000.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 28 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,830, and the county’s death toll is 58. The seven-day average of new cases has risen to 14.9, nearly triple that of early November.

Statewide, MSDH reported 2,457 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 156,868. The seven-day average of new cases is 1604.6 per day, about 876 cases higher — more than double — than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages exceed the numbers seen in July.

At the beginning of the crises, the age group with the most COVID-19 cases were those over 65. Now, most new cases are seen in younger people who are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. In September, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi were 18 to 24 years old. That has shifted to a slightly older group. In November, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are from 25 to 39 years old followed by those 50 to 64 years old.

MSDH reported Wednesday that 15 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,851. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.5%. This rate has dropped as the number of cases are going up faster than the number of deaths at this time.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25.

The 15 deaths MSDH reported Wednesday occurred between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Wednesday
Covington 1
Harrison 1
Hinds 2
Itawamba 1
Lowndes 3
Marion 1
Neshoba 1
Pearl River 1
Pike 1
Rankin 1
Walthall 1
Wayne 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations tripled by late July.

Hospitalizations then steadily dropped through Oct. 3 when they began rising again along with increased cases. The last week in October, hospitalizations began levelling off; however, since Nov. 4 hospitals have seen a steady rise in COVID-19 patients once again.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, was 1,158, about 97% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 1,057 with confirmed cases of COVID-19, another record high, and 101 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 250 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 142 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 128,746 through Sunday, Nov. 29. It represents about 84% of the cumulative 156,868 cases reported as of Wednesday, Dec. 2.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Wednesday, Nov. 11, was 1,630, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,572, or about 85.9% of the 1,830 cumulative cases reported as of Wednesday, Dec. 2. The county has an estimated 200 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Saturday, Nov. 28, is 1,315,279 or about 44.2% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 21.9% Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10.2%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 199 Wednesday, a decrease of one since Tuesday. About 37.8%, or 1,456, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,773, about 5% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 26 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Nov. 15.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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