Natchez steamboat close to Indiana tornado, but unharmed

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

Natchez &8212; A deadly tornado that rocked portions of Indiana and western Kentucky struck only three to five miles from where the steamboat Natchez docked Sunday, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans Steamboat Company said.

The Natchez had just pulled up to dock beside a World War II ship in Evansville, Ind., when the tornado, with winds exceeding 158 mph, roared into the area, killing 22 and causing widespread destruction.

&8220;The crew said the boat rocked, and it was a little scary, but everyone is OK, and the boat is OK,&8221; said Adrienne Thomas, who is among the group accompanying the steamboat on its historic downriver cruise from Cincinnati to New Orleans.

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The Natchez is stopping at cities along the Ohio and then the Mississippi River for day cruises. The boat will be in Natchez on Nov. 18 for two brunch and one dinner cruise.

On Monday, Thomas and a support group were traveling by land as the steamboat continued cruises in Evansville.

&8220;We&8217;re working our way down,&8221; Thomas said. &8220;The steamboat will have cruises in Paducah on Thursday and then be in Memphis for the weekend. Then we come to Natchez.&8221;

The hurricane river relief tour, &8220;Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans,&8221; features New Orleans food and music.

Entertainment includes the Dukes of Dixieland, vocalist Luther Kent and the jazz ensemble The Pfister Sisters.

Cruises will begin at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Natchez Under-the-Hill, with tickets available an hour before each cruise begins.

Brunch cruises are $35 per adult and $17.50 per child. The dinner cruise is $55 per adult and $27.50 per child.

Thomas said cities are warmly greeting the steamboat. &8220;Tell everybody in Natchez to come on out. We need their support,&8221; she said.