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Story Archives: Vidalia meeting on rising river draws crowd
|Vidalia meeting on rising river draws crowd|
An overflow crowd that spilled out onto the sidewalk of Vidalia City Hall's meeting room listened to Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland and Sheriff Randy Maxwell update the rising Mississippi River situation.
"This is a situation we have never seen before," Copeland said. "We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."
Both Copeland and Maxwell told the crowd that rumors make a bad situation even worse.
"The rumors and text messages are doing more damage than anything else," Maxwell said. "The biggest thing now is handling the misinformation."
Copeland and Maxwell said if the river crests at 65 feet as predicted, the parish should be spared.
"Personally I think Vidalia and the parish will be OK," Copeland said. "But if it gets over 65 feet we will have some emergency issues. Our primary concern is to secure our water wells"
"I am really confident we can withstand 65 feet," Maxwell said. "But we are not going to hold back any facts or information. Everyone should be prepared."
Maxwell addressed the questions about the levees giving way north of Vidalia.
"The levee ring around Concordia Parish will protect us even if the levee give away above or below us," Maxwell said. "Now if those breach, that would be another story. That would be a worst-case scenario. But this is not like the Japan tsunami. The people here will have plenty of time to get out of harm's way."
Copeland said the Vidalia Riverfront is closed and that only workers and patients will be allowed over the levee.
Maxwell said the levee is closed throughout the parish.
"Anyone caught on the levee without permission will be arrested because it is a federal offense during an emergency," he said
Maxwell said La. 15 at Deer Park will be closed while the levees are being raised.
Copeland said all organizations are working together to protect the town and its citizens.
"And I want to commend the Corps of Engineers for their assistance," Copeland said. "They have kept in touch with us and they are very confident of their plans."
Copeland said citizens should be prepared to evacuate the same way they would for a tornado or hurricane.
"We are constantly getting updates and will pass them along," he said. "They are still predicting the river will crest at 65. If that changes, we will pass that information along."
City and parish leaders promised to provide accurate and up-to-date information to the public through the local media, Facebook, government websites and the Code Red weather alert system in plenty of time if an evacuation is needed.
Alderwoman Mo Saunders said she has received numerous calls on whether residents should move their belongings out of their house.
"If it will make you feel better and sleep better at night, then do it," she said. "We don't think it's going to be a problem, but you only have to move it back."
One resident asked if volunteers were needed for sandbag duty.
"No, I have 1,300 more than willing to do that," Maxwell said, referring to inmates on Hwy. 15.
Maxwell and Copeland said evacuation routes will be published soon, but leaders agreed heading to Natchez and Adams County is the best move.
Adams County Supervisor Darrell Grennell confirmed that the City of Natchez and Adams County leaders have offered any assistance needed.
The rising river has forced the cancellation of the MDA Lock-UP scheduled for today (Wednesday). The first Live Well in the Miss-Lou River Bridge Run 5K Run/Walk across the Mississippi River Bridge was scheduled to be held Saturday, May 14, but that has been postponed.
The Miss-Lou Area LSU Alumni & Friends Meeting scheduled for the conference and convention center on May 12 has been postponed until June.
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