Delta Council leaders are shifting the focus of Friday’s 76th annual meeting in Cleveland, Miss., to concentrate on the unprecedented high water levels threatening those who live and farm along many of the Mid-South’s rivers and streams.

The announcement that the Council’s scheduled programming will be replaced by briefings from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency personnel comes as the Corps raised its crest projections for several locations along the Mississippi River by as much as four feet.

Delta Council President Cass Pennington said all activities associated with the business session of the meeting will be suspended so that the Corps of Engineers and Mississippi Management Agency can provide a briefing, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

“We are sorry that this decision had to be made, but in the interest of credible information and public safety in this serious situation, it was the only prudent alternative to give these agencies a public platform,” said Pennington.

“At a time when so many of our citizens and businesses are facing the greatest flood threat of their lifetime and their property and safety are compromised, it is imperative that we allow all members of the public to hear a thorough briefing from the Corps of Engineers and the emergency management agencies.”

Other annual meeting activities, including the Salute to Honor Graduates and the Political Roundtable, will be held as scheduled, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland.

“We appreciate all of the sponsors, individuals, agencies, and other special friends who come together to make Delta Council Day a special day in the life of the Delta,” Pennington said. “However, this flood situation, as projected by the National Weather Service and the Corps of Engineers, supersedes any we have ever faced in the Delta.

“I do appreciate our featured speaker, Jim Barksdale, and our sponsors - BankPlus, Southern Ag Credit/Land Banks of Mississippi, Jimmy Sanders., Inc., and five organizations representing “Voices of Mississippi Agriculture:” Catfish Farmers of Mississippi, Corn Promotion Board, Cotton, Incorporated, Rice Promotion Board, and Soybean Promotion Board – for recognizing the severity of the flood and affirming our decision that credible information and public safety should be the priority of Delta Council.”

As of Monday, the Corps of Engineers has raised its forecast of the Mississippi River crest at Vicksburg from 53.5 feet to 57.5 feet and at Greenville from 60 feet to 64.5 feet. The Corps also expects the Mississippi to crest at 48 feet in Memphis, Tenn., which would be 0.7 feet below the crest in 1937.

For more information on the high water threat and the Delta Council annual meeting, go to www.deltacouncil.org. For more information on river stages, go to http://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/riverstage/bullet.txt.