Sandbagging begins along Silver Street in Natchez

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 29, 2008

natchez — The Mississippi River continued its gradual but steady creep up its riverbanks Friday, and local officials decided it was time to start sandbagging along Silver Street at Natchez-Under-the-Hill.

The river stood at 48.7 feet Friday, and by 7 a.m. today is expected to have risen to 49.1 feet.

By Wednesday, the river is expected to stand at 50.7 feet, and its crest is expected to reach 53 feet by the morning of April 6.

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The sandbagging on Friday was completed according to the city’s high water plan, which directs different actions depending on how high water is expected to rise and how quickly it is doing so, Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said.

“We have a well-tested plan,” Gardner said. “We have done this before.”

On Monday, the city will meet with Isle of Capri Casino officials and will assess the situation, at which time it will likely be determined the Isle of Capri boat will have to move slightly downriver, Gardner said.

By that point, the river will be so high that, if the boat is not moved, Isle of Capri patrons will be walking off of the boat directly into the street, Gardner said.

“The move is for safety,” he said. “That’s absolutely paramount.”

In Concordia Parish, the high water — which has already flooded the low-lying, river-side-of-the-levee areas of Minorca and Deer Park — is affecting how some students get to and from school.

Parents are having to boat their children to ground high enough not to be flooded, and the school bus picks them up from that point, and in the afternoons the busses drop the children off to their parents, who are waiting with boats, Concordia Parish School Board Transportation Director Tommy Lanius said.

To deal with the pick-up problems, some children have gone to stay with relatives, Lanius said.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office has started patrolling flooded areas to ensure the security of the hunting camps affected by the high water, Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said.

The highest recorded event on the river was when it reached 58.04 feet in 1937.

In 1997, the river reached 56.3 feet.