(COLUMBUS, Miss.) — A barge accident early Thursday morning closed the John C. Stennis Lock and Dam in Columbus, increasing the potential of flooding between the lock and Aberdeen Lock on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (Tenn-Tom), the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
“The Stennis Lock is closed until further notice. A loaded barge broke loose from the Clay County Port sometime during the night. It hit the spillway and sank,” said Mitch Mays, administrator of the Tenn-Tom Waterway Authority. “The water is already rising and with the barge blocking gates, they can’t move as much water through as they would normally do during a high water event like you have right now.”
Justin Murphree, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations site manager, said the barge hit the spillway close to midnight Wednesday and sank between 1:45 and 2 a.m. Thursday.
“It’s got two and a half gates blocked but not completely blocked, but the flow through those gates is severely limited. We’re passing as much water as we can. We’ve got all the gates completely raised trying to get as much water through as we can,” Murphree said.
Mays said on Thursday afternoon that he was unsure when the lock will reopen.
“It’s too early to say what kind of recovery they’ll have on the barge and assessing any damage to the gates and spillway itself,” he said.