Fort Adams submerged in river’s waters

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

FORT ADAMS — At almost a mile away from the river, Myrtis Martin’s store in the small Wilkinson County community of Fort Adams was never even close to being waterfront property, at least until recently.

Standing on the porch from her temporary location, Martin pointed to a red building, half-submerged by floodwaters that crept into the town from the Mississippi River after a nearby levee blew.

With four feet of standing water in her store, Martin said she lost everything in it.

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“Some of it is floated down the street, and what was jacked up in the store is gone,” she said.

Martin has seen floodwaters work their way into homes and across roads — the road into Fort Adams ends at the newly created, albeit unintended, lake — before, but these waters don’t worry her much, she said.

“The good Lord will take care of it one day,” she said. “It’s hurt a lot of people down here, but it’s hurt a lot of people worse.”

The flooding has attracted sightseers to the area, who bring their boats down to survey flooded buildings or just for the novelty of being able to fish in the center of town.

That causes its own share of problems, however, said resident Pam Brister, the floor of whose porch is approximately three inches above water.

“They put terrible wave wakes through here,” Brister said. “Those wakes can wash the things piled up on people’s porches right off.”

Sightseers aren’t the only ones making a pilgrimage to the otherwise quiet community, though.

“People think everyone is gone and everything is just open for grabs, so they try and come down here to steal as much as they can,” resident Wanda Lander said.

For Melvin Comeaux, whose submerged front yard rendered 158 pounds of fish in a single day recently, there’s an easy solution to would-be raiders — the four guns he has in his house.

While those guns haven’t been used to stop any burglars by boat, they have been used to kill an abundance of water snakes that have made their way to his property, he said.

Snakes aren’t the only thing fleeing or floating in the water, Lander said.

“The other day, we were out in the boat and saw a mama raccoon and her family trapped in a tree, and we had a catfish in the boat, so we cut it up and left it on a branch where she could get it,” Lander said. “We go back every day and leave something for them to eat.”

But Comeaux, who recently saved the floating picket fence for Fort Adams’ historic St. Patrick Catholic church, said he’s found a silver lining to the flooding.

“People would pay a million dollars to have waterfront property,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t get in the house, it’s OK.”