River may be rising, but life keeps rolling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Tuesday was a typical morning for Lonnie Barnett: get dressed, eat breakfast, descend 12 feet of stairs to the front yard, ferry your daughter across 20-foot-deep water to the school bus stop.

Typical except for the fact that the Old River at Minorca, where Barnett and his 7-year-old daughter live, has risen since Friday from just covering the river bed to a height of 20 feet.

&uot;It’s no big deal,&uot; Barnett said, looking over the water from a gazebo he built more than 40 feet in the air on the end of his pier. &uot;Besides,&uot; he added with a grin, &uot;it would take a lot to flood my house.&uot;

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He and others with camps and houses at Minorca, west of Vidalia, and near Deer Park, south of Vidalia, are cut off from them by rising Mississippi River waters. The river was at 47.5 feet Tuesday and is due to crest Friday at 48.5 feet, six inches above flood stage.

&uot;The river is forecast to go back down after that,&uot; said Concordia Parish Civil Defense Director Morris White. As far as flooding of areas outside the parish’s levees, &uot;there’s not a thing in the world we can do about that,&uot; he said.

But the Vidalia Landing development site on the banks of the Mississippi River is not expected to flood, White said. &uot;It would have to get to 59.8 feet in order to flood the riverwalk, and we’ve never gauged it that high,&uot;&160;said Sidney Murray Jr., chairman of the Riverfront Authority.

In addition, the Ouachita River was at 43.6 feet Tuesday and is expected to crest today at 45 feet, a full five feet above flood stage. The Tensas River is at the same level, said Jerry McDonald, Vidalia-based area engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Residents of low-lying areas near Sicily Island and the Enterprise community are being asked to leave their homes due to flood waters that are cutting off access roads.

&uot;We’re asking them to take whatever personal belongings they have and leave,&uot;&160;Renda said. She also said that water was standing five to six feet deep on some roads near Sicily Island.