Isle of Capri reopens after floods forced closure

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NATCHEZ — Sandbags, silt and debris couldn’t stand in the way of the Isle of Capri casino boat re-opening at 10 a.m. Monday.

Interim General Manager John Moran said he was pleased to return to business as usual.

“It feels wonderful,” he said of being re-opened. “It’s a beautiful day, I couldn’t have asked for a prettier day to re-open.”

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As Moran stood outside welcoming the stream of customers, he said the week’s worth of cleanup wasn’t bad.

“Nothing’s ever too difficult,” he said. “It just takes a lot of time and energy.”

Cleanup involved disassembling the walls of sandbags that were no longer needed.

One wall remains but the water is still too high to remove it.

“We’re still above flood stage,” Moran said.

The Isle also had to clean up about six inches of silt and smatterings of debris that were left after the water receded.

“We still have some cleaning to do,” Moran said.

That’s not stopping the patrons from pouring into the boat.

As Natchez citizen Barbara Anderson, hopped off the Isle’s shuttle bus and headed toward the boat, she said she was glad the Isle had re-opened.

Anderson described herself as a regular visitor of the boat.

Mary Brown and Brenda Holmes frequently cross the river from Ferriday to enjoy a few hours at the boat.

Both were excited the boat was open.

“We came about 2 p.m.,” Brown said of the pair who was waiting on the shuttle bus around 4 p.m.

Holmes said only once in the month that the Isle was closed did they go to another casino out of town.

For the most part, they just waited until the Isle reopened, she said.

While casino representatives have said the casino worked closely with the city in its decision to reopen, City Engineer David Gardner said ultimately it was the casino’s call.

That does not mean there was not good communication between the two, Gardner said.

“This particular go- around we worked with the casino closer than we have in the past,” he said. “It’s proven to work a lot better. I like the way we did it this year.”

The only two streets that grant patrons access to the casino are D.A. Biglane and Silver streets — which have been fully or partially closed for weeks.

Both were opened on Thursday when the water receded completely off the base of Silver Street.

Gardner said the city didn’t do much to clean up the area, and the Isle of Capri really took charge of the task.

“We brought a fire hose down there and provided the water,” Gardner said of the city’s involvement.

Other than that, the Isle took care of it, getting their own employees and using their own front-end loader.

Gardner said the Isle had to reposition the boat before re-opening.

When the water reached between 52 and 52.5 feet, the boat had to move a few yards.

“The river fell to a point where the boat had to move otherwise it would be on dry ground,” Gardner said.

He said the boat was moved over the weekend.

The Isle closed when the water hit 55.5 feet.

With D.A. Biglane and Silver streets open, Gardner said in the next week the city will work to reopen Roth Hill Road, which has been closed since April 8.

Parts of the grassy embankment have been washed out from the river slapping ashore, and Gardner said those holes will need to be filled with rock.

A simple fix, he said it’s just a matter of getting public works down there to fix it.