Company sees inventory wash away

Published 11:54 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2008

VIDALIA — What used to be the Vidalia Dock and Storage lot on the Vidalia riverfront is now islands of rock and lime surrounded by rapidly rising river.

When the river started to rise into the lot — of which the river has claimed approximately 75 percent — the company moved its equipment into a neighboring lot, Manager Karla Jenkins said.

“The river level definitely makes it harder to do business,” Jenkins said. “The currents out there are almost too swift to be safe.”

Email newsletter signup

The company tried to keep its inventory low when the river started to rise, but now there’s not a lot they can do about the large pile of agricultural lime that is slowly and steadily washing downriver, Vidalia Dock and Storage’s Port Captain Travis Morace said.

The high water has also had an effect on river traffic, Jenkins said.

“Normally, at any point in the day, you can look out over the river and see four or five boats heading in either direction, but there’s not nearly that much right now,” she said. “It’s been really quiet. I think most people made the decision to wait and be safe.”

That reason is because barges, which normally travel at approximately 8 miles per hour, may be propelled to almost twice that because of the river’s currents, Jenkins said.

“Those longboats don’t have time to line up well for the bridge,” Jenkins said. “I’ve seen them just absolutely shoot through there.”

Morace agreed about the currents.

“It’s an absolute nightmare trying to navigate out there,” he said.

To the south, in the unincorporated community of Deer Park, where standing water has seemingly become a part of everyday life, the rising waters have overtaken many of the homes and camps despite their being on stilts.

But it’s not just humans who are wondering what to do with the rising floodwaters, said Mark Terro, who works on Glasscock Island with the LHC Group.

Pointing across the now vast Old River to an area where the trees are thick in the water, Terro said, “That’s normally land, but it’s all water now.”

The wildlife that lives on the island is running for whatever higher ground it can find, Terro said.

“You can see armadillos and possums just sitting on logs surrounded by water on the island,” Terro said. “They don’t have anywhere to go.”

The river is expected to stand at 54.3 feet today, 6.3 feet above flood stage.

The floodwaters are expected to crest at 55.5 feet April 15.