Flooding presents too many risks for careless sightseeing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 10, 2016


ith the floodwaters continuing to rise and Vicksburg again becoming a media darling as news organizations flock to report the passing of the Mississippi River’s 52-foot crest Friday, our city could play host to a new form of tourist, the flood watcher.

It was not unusual in 2011, as the Mississippi rose and its waters slowly spread inland, to find people flocking with cameras, binoculars and iPhones in hand to vantage points along Washington Street and the National Park Service observation sites along South Washington Street to get a good look and a picture of the swollen river.

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A lot of those sightseers will be Vicksburg and Warren County residents who will head to the special areas only they know to get an up close and maybe too personal look at the flood. That can be a dangerous, and possibly deadly, thing to do.

Fire Chief Charles Atkins pointed out the seriousness of the flood and its dangers at a meeting of the city’s High Water Response Team Committee.

“This is nothing to play with. In 2011, we lost one young man who drowned,” he said.

City police and traffic department officials and county and state road officials have already taken the precautions to block off roads deemed impassible because they are underwater. Barricades and traffic cones are up and in some areas police and sheriff deputies are blocking streets with their cars.

But that will not prevent some people from taking the risk to get close and get that “perfect” shot of the flood for posterity.

We are, by nature, curious beings. We want to know what’s happening in our neighborhoods and our communities. We flock to see fires and other disasters, not of malice, but out of wanting to know more. And sometimes that desire to know more makes us take risks. And taking risks can lead to disaster.

The flooding we’re experiencing, in the words of a National Weather Service meteorologist, is an extraordinary event, and because we’re human and we want to see what it’s about, we want to get as close as we can to see what it’s like.

But high and swift-running water is nothing to play with.

If you want to see the flooding, there are plenty of safe places in the city where you can get a good idea of what it’s about. Trying to slip across that barricade for a peek is careless, stupid and dangerous, and the last thing anyone wants to hear or read about is someone drowned because they ignored the warnings. We lost one life in 2011. Let’s lose none on 2016.


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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