Flooding erodes riverbanks

Published 12:44 am Thursday, April 3, 2008

VIDALIA — While the Mississippi River continues its upward slide along the riverbanks, it is slowly but surely licking away some portions of those banks.

The river is expected to stand at 51.5 feet at 7 a.m. today, and is expected to crest at 53.5 feet April 8.

The City of Vidalia took a precautionary measure Monday by placing a 100-foot long and 20-foot wide visqueen sheet and weighing it down with sandbags in front of the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.

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Sandbags were also anchored to the shore and submerged along the bottom of the sheet to hold the riverbank in place.

“We first noticed the bank was getting eroded when somebody drove over the river and looked down and saw it,” Riverfront Administrator H.L. Irvin said.

The riverfront is ultimately safe because a subterranean concrete wall will protect it from getting too eroded, but the parts of the bank the city is trying to save are all new dirt, Irvin said.

“We’re trying to save what dirt we can,” he said.

The cautionary measure was done according to U.S. Corps of Engineers standards, Irvin said.

“The corps came by this morning and said we had done exactly what needed to be done temporarily,” he said.

In the future, the corps is going to come in and add some rocks to shore up the riverbank so the city won’t have to take the same kind of riverbank saving measures again, Irvin said.

Meanwhile, the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office is continuing patrols of the levees to ensure they are not intentionally or unintentionally damaged, and in recent days has received calls regarding people riding ATVs on the levees.

The sheriff’s office can cite or arrest anyone riding an ATV or any motorized vehicle on the levee unless they are on a designated roadway, CPSO Public Information Officer Kathleen Stevens said.

Riding a vehicle off of the designated roadways on the levees is a felony offense.

Cases of people “cutting or destroying a levee” have been successfully prosecuted in the past, Stevens said.

As for the levees themselves, everything is standing strong, Fifth District Levee Board President Reynold Minsky said.

“There haven’t been any problems as far as we’ve seen,” Minsky said.