A trip to the Mississippi Delta turned into a film.
"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, Mississippi, 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".
Raising awareness that leads to action.
It is our hope that this film can actually change the world by fostering a community that is united in finding a solution to stop the flooding in the Mississippi Delta and to get the necessary infrastructure in place to prevent this from happening in the future. Not only this, we hope this film brings attention to other groups affected by this flood and helps create support for those that have no choice but to continue to live and work in the Mississippi Delta.
In 2019, around 500,000 acres of farmland and homes in the Mississippi delta flooded when rain water and overflow from rivers and tributaries collected in the lower delta basin.
Farmers have lost millions, the governor declared a state of
emergency, and the future of farming is uncertain for many. Other
residents of the Delta have had to leave as water creeps into their
houses. The cause of this catastrophe can be linked to what
many allege as poor government management. As one farmer said,
“This is a man-made catastrophe.”Following the Great Flood of
1927 Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1928 which
recognized that flooding dueto the Mississippi River is a federal
responsibility because 41% of the continental United States drains
down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. This Act
authorized the Mississippi River & Tributaries Project which
called for levees and floodwalls, floodways, channel improvement
and stabilization, and tributary basin improvements. In 1936,
Congress recognized that some of the levee construction work cut
off drainage outlets for interior basins, therefore Congress passed
the Flood Control Act of 1936 which extends federal responsibility
to many river basins that feed into the Mississippi River, including
the Yazoo Basin. In 1941, the federal government built a levee
system called the “Yazoo Backwater Project” through the Flood
Control Act of 1941. In March, 1986 the contract for the first item of
work for the pumps was awarded. Actual construction began on
May 5, 1986. The first item included the inlet channel and outlet
channel for the pumps, and dam construction around the pump
site. Language drafted into the Water Resource Act of 1986 passed
in October, 1986 stated that any project started after April 30, 1986
would be subject to cost sharing. This wording affected one
project in the United States, the Yazoo Backwater Project. This was
a change from the Federal responsibility that Congress had
accepted in the previous Acts. Cost-sharing effectively killed the
pump project because the Mississippi Levee Board and it’s
tax paying citizens could not afford the cost-share. In 1996,
Senator Thad Cochran added language to the Water Resources
Development Act of 1996 that re-defined the start of construction
as when the contract is awarded, thereby restoring full federal
responsibility for the completion of the Yazoo Backwater Project.
The last remaining feature of the Yazoo Backwater Project is the
construction of pumps. The recommended plan is estimated to
cost $181 million ($115 million for the structural features and $66
million for environmental non-structural features). In 2006, a bill
introducing the final 1 construction of the pumping plants was
vetoed. The result is the catastrophic flooding of 2019.