Fears overtake some residents, trailers move out

Published 12:11 am Sunday, May 8, 2011

NATCHEZ — Some Concordia Parish residents sit in sparsely furnished houses today, waiting for the drop of an official’s hat or the rise of a crest prediction to make a move east.

Some have already gone, joining a steady line of trailers and moving trucks headed toward Natchez on the Mississippi River Bridge Saturday.

“I’ve never seen so much stuff go across that river in my life,” said Vidalia resident Rex Archer.

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And with two weeks notice about potential flooding from the Mississippi River, even the most cavalier residents are boxing up their pictures, at the very least.

Archer, who lives on Palm St. with his wife, was loading only what he said were irreplaceable items on his trailer Saturday.

Antique furniture, important papers and family photographs are about all Archer said he will store in an extra bedroom at his brother’s house in Natchez.

The number of people packing up and moving everything surprised him, he said.

“I know (the situation) is scary, but I’ve never seen so many people moving in my life,” Archer said.

In his opinion, many residents are panicking a tad, Archer said, but he has no problem with other people’s decision to clear house this soon.

“If people feel like they need to (move everything), they should do what they need to do if it will make them feel better,” Archer said.

Personally, Archer said does not predict disaster.

“The levees will hold up, but the antiques, the papers, the pictures gotta go, just in case,” he said.

Mark and Cindy Bruce, who live on Azalea Drive, recently purchased an RV to prepare for possible flooding.

The RV is waiting for them and their 2-year-old son, Logan, should they evacuate. Most of the furniture in their house was moved to a storage unit in Natchez on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, they said.

Cindy said potential flooding has her worried.

“I’ve had many days of crying about this,” she said.

Cindy’s sisters and brother-in-laws, who were at her house Saturday for Logan’s birthday and to help them pack, joked with Cindy that she is typically worried.

But they also agreed its best to prepare while they have the time.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” Mark said.

Carrie Wells, who lives on Sycamore Street, is familiar with flooding.

She ended up in Vidalia from New Orleans in 2005 after spending days after Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans Superdome when her Bienville Street house went under water.

“I got my stuff packed,” she said.

But Wells said she is waiting until she gets the official word to evacuate to actually leave.

And if that time comes, she has a plan.

“I’m going with my cousin to Natchez. If not Natchez maybe Baton Rouge or somewhere around there,” she said.

Wells said not many she knows have evacuated yet, but everyone has started to prepare.

“Everybody’s got their stuff packed,” she said.

She said the family has looked to news reports for constant updates.

Across the river, people standing at Natchez bluff were not worried about their belongings, but about their neighbors across the mightier-than-ever river.

“It’s pretty amazing for people who were born here and have seen the river all their lives — to think how horrible the damage it could do,” said Barbara Stein, a lifelong Natchezian.

Steins husband, Bill Stein, remembered aloud how flooding in past decades caused problems with the forestry industry.

The bluff drew Bobby and Marie Morris to the spectacle of the river from nearly 70 miles away.

The couple drove from McComb to Natchez to get a look of the rising river, because they said they have heard so much news about it.

Marie said she saw perhaps more than 50 people on the highway headed toward McComb with moving trucks or trailers with furniture, washers, dryers and more.

“It’s so sad,” she said.

But for now, even for the most prepared Concordia residents, it’s too early to assess the risk.

“We’re just going to sit back and wait,” Cindy Bruce said.

And no matter how anyone uses the weeks leading up to dangerous river levels to prepare, Archer said the Miss-Lou is lucky to have the extra time.

“Think about the people in tornadoes…All (some) could do was drive in a ditch,” Archer said.

“We ought to feel blessed that we have all this time.”