"The water from the wakes just keeps coming into our buildings. We're going to have a lot more damage," said Jenkins, who owns Vidalia Dock and Storage.
The hardest-hit part of the state is the area from Vicksburg northeast to Yazoo City, along the Yazoo River. The Yazoo Backwater Levee north of Vicksburg connects with the main Mississippi River levee. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials had predicted that at least a foot of water could pour over the top, flooding tens of thousands of acres of farmland in the Delta.
The corps brought in new gauges and did another analysis and now believes the levee will only be overtopped by inches, if at all, agency spokesman Wayne Stroupe said.
But he said: "It's going to be very close."
If the levee overtops, it likely will be when the gauges at Vicksburg reach 57.2 or 57.3 feet. The Mississippi River is projected to crest Thursday there at 57.5 feet, more than a foot above the 1927 record.
But after the crest, it could be days before the water starts going down, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday morning on CBS' "The Early Show."
"There'll be areas in the Mississippi Delta that'll still be flooded, not only in the middle of June, some into late June," Barbour said.
Vivian Taylor, a 60-year-old substitute teacher, described a sense of denial for many residents of her neighborhood in south Vicksburg before the flooding got bad.
"We thought maybe it wouldn't get that bad," she said. "When we saw water starting to build up in fields behind the neighborhood we started to get worried. Then we started seeing snakes and worms coming up out of the ground and we became very concerned."
Throughout the spring, the Mississippi is a highway for barges laden with corn, soybeans and other crops headed from the Midwest to ports near New Orleans, where they get loaded onto massive grain carriers for export around the world. The closure helped push corn, wheat and soybean prices higher Tuesday.
Traders, however, are more worried that flooded acreage won't be replanted with corn, said John Sanow, an analyst with DTN Telvent.
On a typical day, some 600 barges move back and forth along the Mississippi, with a single vessel carrying as much cargo as 70 tractor-trailers or 17 rail cars, according to Bob Anderson, spokesman for the Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers.
"When it shuts, there's really no alternative," said Jim Reed, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association.
Also Tuesday, at least 10 freight terminals along the lower Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans suspended operations because of high water. Vessels scheduled to use the terminals will either have to wait out the high water or divert elsewhere. Delaying a vessel by even a single day often costs $20,000 to $40,000, port officials said.