Isle not fleeing high waters just yet

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

NATCHEZ — Despite the river rising daily, the Isle of Capri boat is going to stay put, for now.

Representatives of the casino and hotel and City Engineer David Gardner had a conference call Monday afternoon to make this decision.

Gardner said the Isle of Capri was requesting to stay where they were and Gardner gave them clearance.

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He said the boat has between two and two and a half feet of wiggle room before it absolutely must move.

As of Monday afternoon, the river was at 50 feet and is projected to rise six inches each day, Gardner said.

When the river reaches between 52 and 52.5 feet, then the boat will have to move, he said.

“We’ve gone as far as we can go with the boat as far as moving up closer to high ground,” Gardner said. “It can’t move any further.”

For right now, it’s position is OK.

Gardner said the casino plans to lift the passenger ramp enough to place sandbags to keep water off of Silver Street.

The passenger ramp is on the brink of colliding with vehicle traffic, and that is one reason that Gardner doesn’t want to the boat to move anymore.

If the ramp moves any further, lines of people trying to get into the boat will start spilling on to the road, which is hazardous.

Gardner said they’ve placed barricades to maintain the flow of people and have also placed orange traffic cones to alert drivers.

Jack Sours, general manager and vice president of the Isle of Capri, said the casino is making safety a priority.

“As long as the forecast is what it is, we can stay put without jeopardizing public safety issues,” he said.

Gardner and Isle of Capri representatives plan to discuss the situation again on Wednesday, as the river is predicted to rise one foot over the next two days.

“It’s an ongoing communication,” Sours said.

Gardner said the boat will more than likely have to move.

“It’s going to be inevitable that the boat has got to move,” he said.