Midday update: J.M. Jones holding strong

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, May 26, 2011

NATCHEZ — As the river continues to drop and the U.S. Coast Guard continues to implement restrictions on barges and towboats, the employees at J.M. Jones are becoming a bit more optimistic.

“The Coast Guard has been wonderful,” owner Lee Jones said. “They didn’t start out like that. But now they’ve been wonderful monitoring; they keep (barges and) boats in middle of the stream, they don’t let them go more than 2 miles per hour through the Natchez/Vidalia area, and they have to stop running at 7 p.m. to give us more daylight to work.”

The wake from barges worried the lumber company, as it was possible water would flow over the levees. Now, though, only three barges and tugboats can pass upstream per day, as opposed to the 11 or so that were coming through previously, Jones said.

Email newsletter signup

“About 77 towboats and barges in Baton Rouge are in a log jam because of the barges that sunk,” Lee said. “The harbor is just filled up with boats and barges and you can’t hardly move around because you’ll hit something.

“It gives us time for a little bit of the water to go down so more of our old levee is out of the water. I guess one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I certainly feel sorry for this mess down in Baton Rouge.”

In Concordia Parish, residents and property owners at Deer Park and Minorca remain extradited from their homes, and no one can say when they’ll be able to move back.

“I think the water gets off the road somewhere after 50 feet,” Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said. “(I have) no idea when that will happen. It depends on the rain and things like that, but we have no idea. There are too many uncontrollable factors.”

The river stands at 60.32 now, and isn’t expected to drop to 50 feet until mid June.

Daily CPSO patrols continue in the area.

“(The patrols) won’t stop until they start having people (move back in) down there,” Maxwell said. “We’ll be there to protect everyone’s property as long as it takes. We’ll patrol daily until that time.”