Cooperation key as river level keeps rising

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This week, we can expect the Mississippi River to reach beyond flood stage, leaving city officials and business owners in a waiting game.

On Saturday evening, the river stage was at 49.4, with a crest of 53.5 expected by the end of the month.

At 51 feet, city officials have to make a decision whether to close Silver Street &045; affecting the businesses at Natchez Under-the-Hill, including the Isle of Capri casino.

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It seems that over the years, though, we’ve all learned some lessons.

The devastating destruction of the 1927 flood taught officials up and down the river about the need for a better levee system &045; and for less politics in the midst of a terrifying flood.

Just eight years ago, when the river hit 56.3 feet and the city had to close Silver Street, the City of Natchez and Lady Luck casino were in a tussle over the continued closure of the street, which left employees out of work for several weeks.

This year, city officials and Isle of Capri officials have been meeting almost daily to discuss the river stage and what might happen Under-the-Hill. While the city wants to be business-friendly, the casino understands that it’s the city’s call &045; and safety is the priority. We’re glad to see that kind of cooperation. We hope the river level does not keep the street closed for long, if indeed it must be closed.

This is an unusual stage for the river at this time of year; flood stage usually comes in the spring or summer. We hope this isn’t a portent of things to come this year &045; but we believe cooperation will help get us through any situation.