At Eagle Lake: ‘Good to be home’

Published 11:45 am Monday, June 27, 2011

“It’s always good to be home,” said Tommy Beasley, a full-time Eagle Lake resident who moved home Sunday after being gone for more than a month.

The opening Thursday of Mississippi 465, the main route between U.S. 61 North and Eagle Lake, allowed for easier access for him and his wife, Debbie, to head to their home on Shell Beach Raod.

Back in Vicksburg, residents displaced by the historic Mississippi River flood were not necessarily so lucky.

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“I hope the (City of Vicksburg) writes me a letter tomorrow so I’ll know what to do next,” Kings resident Robert Union said Sunday. “I’m ready to go back.”

Union was among some 3,000 Vicksburg residents along the river who evacuated their homes north and south of the city’s bluffs.

The Mississippi River at Vicksburg crested on May 19 at 57.1 feet, 14.1 feet above flood stage.

Union, who has been staying with relatives in Vicksburg, said he has filed the necessary paperwork to receive financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and his home has been seen by a city inspector.

For Eagle Lake residents, under a mandatory evacuation order since early May, the Warren County Board of Supervisors was expected to lift the order Tuesday.

The evacuation had been ordered because access to the oxbow lake had been limited by the rising river, forcing residents to drive north through Sharkey and Issaquena counties via Low Water Bridge Road.

“It was 111 miles round trip that way for us,” said Tommy Beasley who stayed with relatives in Vicksburg during the evacuation. “Now that 465 is open, you save a lot on gas and time.”

Vicksburg residents and contract workers Chris Raney and Terry Hunter also found the opening of Mississippi 465 a relief.

“It makes it a whole lot quicker and a lot less gas,” said Raney adding that gas had cost him about $250 for five days of round trips from Vicksburg to Chotard Landing.

Raney and Hunter, whose Vicksburg homes were not affected by the flood, were contracted to clean and remove debris from properties at Chotard Landing, a lakeside resort about five miles north of Eagle Lake.

Vicksburg resident Wade Walker, who also did not suffer any flood damage, saw the highway opening as a convenient opportunity to go fishing at Chotard Sunday.

“I’ve been over at Lake Providence, Louisiana, fishing for the last few days and I’ve been wanting to come over here,” he said, “and I heard the road was open so I came up.”