Vidalia life returning to normal

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

VIDALIA — Monday morning, Michael Riddel packed his last three boxes of valuables, documents and personal belongings into his car before he left to head back over the river into Vidalia.

Riddel was retrieving the remainder of the items he packed up and stored in Natchez in preparation for the highest Mississippi River water levels ever.

“This is the last car trip I have to make,” he said. “Then I can forget this whole flood ordeal ever happened.”

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Riddel spent six hours Sunday moving back his two couches, king-sized bed, antique dining table and dozens of boxes of valuables, and said it was nice to finally be staying in a house with comfortable places to sit once again.

“We have been using folding chairs and sitting on the floor for the past month,” he said. “I have never missed a bed more in my life.”

Riddel said the first night of sleep in his bed since he moved everything out was far more enjoyable than he ever would have expected.

“There is just something about being in my own bed again without having to worry about flooding,” he said. “I have spent too many nights laying awake thinking about what could go wrong.”

Like Riddel, Vidalia resident Natasha Brolin also moved back the final few things from her storage unit in Natchez Monday morning.

“This has been a lot of work moving things here and back,” she said. “But that work would have saved me my livelihood if something tragic would have happened.”

Brolin said she loaded up a moving truck with all of her valuables May 12 to head toward the safety of the Natchez bluffs.

“There were times, especially when the crest was first projected at 65 feet, where it seemed almost everyone on this side of the river thought we were going to flood,” she said. “I didn’t like those odds, so I just moved stuff out as a precaution.”

Even with no damage to her home, Brolin said she believed she made the right move in packing up.

“It was either do five hours of extra work and be safeguarded against something tragic or be lazy and hope for the best,” she said. “I guess I could have been lazy this time, but that isn’t my style.”

While Brolin was excited to get the furniture back in her house, her 4-year-old son Timmy was just glad he finally got his Xbox back.

“I haven’t played this in forever,” he said while he clutched the console’s controller in his hand. “(Mom) said I could plug it in and play right when we get home.”

Brolin said Timmy earned the right to play his Xbox after the work he spent helping his mom move everything back and forth to Vidalia.

“He has been my little helper,” she said. “Everyone needs a hand whenever something as stressful as this is going on.”

Riddel said that while he did not enjoy having to move all of his belongings, he was glad Vidalia is located close to a city like Natchez.

“The protection from the flood with the bluff is a great thing to be around,” he said. “But the city itself has done so much for us over in Vidalia. I can’t thank the city enough.”

With next year’s water levels a mystery, Brolin said he was going to use this year as a learning tool for any future problems that may occur.

“Well, if we ever have this water again, I know what to do, or at least where to start,” he said. “Plus, from here on out I have all my important documents in the same folder, which is something that I am glad happened.”

Brolin said that while she did learn some important information about flood preparation, she is ready to stop talking about the river and start talking about the future.