Helena-West Helena Mayor Jay Hollowell was among four mayors of Mississippi River communities that participated Tuesday in a conference call to coordinate efforts to address flooding issues along the waterway. The mayors represented Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Helena-West Helena Mayor Jay Hollowell was among four mayors of Mississippi River communities that participated Tuesday in a conference call to coordinate efforts to address flooding issues along the waterway. The mayors represented Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

The mayors call themselves the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. It consists of 75 mayors of cities and towns situated along the Father of Waters. They are committed to creating a unified voice for those communities.

Storms that passed through middle-Mississippi River Valley over the weekend caused significant damage.

“Mississippi River cities from my city of Davenport, Iowa all the way to Natchez, Mississippi were or are under a flood warning,” stated Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch. “As late as May 1, two-thirds of the state of Missouri and half the state of Illinois were also under a flood warning.”

It was noted that as many as 26 MRCTI communities are directly in the path of the rising water making its way south. Additional rain was predicted for the area this week.

In 2016, heavy flooding struck most of the 10-state Mississippi River corridor, causing over $10 billion in damages.

“We're now living in a world of climate extremes and the Mississippi River is a good example of that,” said Mayor Brent Walker of Alton, Illinois. “We don't get just normal spring rains, we get huge, loaded storms. We don't just get patterns of mild weather, we get above normal heat coupled with long, dry periods that dip us into drought.”

The mayors talked about making plans to improve the natural and constructed infrastructure of the corridor enabling the Mississippi River Valley to be better able to resist future disasters.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri Mayor Harry Rediger reported that MRCTI mayors presented a plan to the White House and Congress back in March to restore the constructed and natural infrastructure of the corridor.

“The plan will create 100,000 jobs and generate $24 billion in economic return if disaster resilience is included,” commented Rediger. “Creating retention lakes like Mayor Hollowell is in Helena is a valuable resilience effort.

The MRCTI is attempting to bring national attention back to the Mississippi River – one of the country's most critical assets – and generate a new level of cooperation to make it sustainable. The river is directly responsible for providing drinking water for 20 million people; transporting 40 percent of the nation's agricultural output; and directly supporting 1.5 million jobs and millions of others indirectly.