Kudos to local emergency officials for putting flood rumors to rest

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2018

When you live on the Mississippi River, flooding, like the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, is a fact of life.

Just as residents on the coast track hurricanes as they cross the Atlantic Ocean and enter the Gulf of Mexico, we watch the weather forecasts for the Upper Mississippi River Basin to see if the states and rivers there will receive heavy rainfall, and then watch the river stages to see if we or our friends or relatives will have to escape the coming flood, and all the time, the 2011 spring Mississippi flood, like Hurricane Katrina on the coast, sits in the back of our minds.

And with the predicted flooding comes the inevitable rumors of gloom and doom. Somebody heard a levee was near breaking somewhere between Vicksburg and Eagle Lake. Steele Bayou was going to reach a record level and flood sections of the northern part of the county. Eagle Lake is going to top its banks and flood the area.

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That’s what made last Saturday’s meeting at Eagle Lake important. The meeting was called by county emergency management officials in response to rumors that were circulating through the Eagle Lake community and elsewhere in the northern part of the county. It was a good move on the part of Emergency Management director John Elfer and Sheriff Martin Pace, and gave the residents an opportunity to ask their questions, give their concerns and get the correct facts on what was happening.

With the proliferation of social media sites across the Internet, many people are turning to sites like Facebook and Instagram to get information in times of crisis, and a lot of times getting bad information, or as President Trump would say, fake news. That can mean problems during emergencies, when calm heads and accurate information are needed.

If people have questions or concerns during a flood or any disaster, they need to turn to official sources of information, like the county’s Emergency Management Agency, to get the right information. It will also give these officials an opportunity to check out an individual’s concerns and act if a rumor has any validity.

Emergencies are stressful times for people, and potential for panic is high, but it doesn’t have to be that way when there are agencies that can provide factual information and help reduce the fear.