May 20th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Along the Mississippi, signs of recovery and stormy forecasts

Vicksburg, Mississippi (CNN) - Early signs of recovery mixed with stormy forecasts Friday, as residents struggled to dig out of the most significant flood to hit the lower Mississippi River valley in more than 70 years.

In Tunica, Mississippi, two casinos reopened after being shut for almost three weeks because of the flooding, said Caesars Entertainment, the company that owns and operates them.

But farther south, Vicksburg residents face a long and slow goodbye to the historic flood that submerged much of their city, forecasters said. They predicted that the river could remain out of its banks until at least mid-June.

The Mississippi River is not expected to return to its 43-foot flood stage in Vicksburg until after June 14, which is 46 days after it climbed out of its banks, said Amanda Roberts, a National Weather Service hydrologist.

It crested at 57.1 feet Thursday, and the weather service predicts the crest will hold through at least Saturday morning in Vicksburg.

Severe storms are likely Saturday and Sunday in the Mississippi River, Ohio River and Tennessee River valleys, said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

Up to 3 inches of rain per hour are possible, with heavier storms on Sunday. The rain could lead to secondary crests and higher crests along the Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee, southward, he said.

Some greeted the cresting floodwaters - which have damaged hundreds of homes and displaced 2,000 Vicksburg residents - with relief. Others celebrated.

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