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Flood Closes Some Areas to Boating This Memorial Day

By Daniel Cherry | Published 27 May 2011 04:31pm | comments

Memorial Day is one of the three busiest boating days of the year. MPB's Daniel Cherry looks at safety on the water and how the flood is restricting boating in some areas of the state.

Guido Hussels is going to be spending Memorial Day on the Ross Barnett Reservoir with his family. He says he's going to be taking extra safety precautions due to the heavy boat traffic.

"When we go tubing I'll usually take an extra adult with me so they can watch for the tubes and I can watch for the rest of it. It's more those higher speed boats that I've seen. People drive around pretty fast, and some big wakes coming up is something you've got to look out for."

But not everyone will be able to hit the water at their normal spots. Governor Haley Barbour has issued an executive order, closing waterways to boating and recreation in all 14 flood affected counties. One reason for that is the high water has concealed stumps and structures which people can run over. Dale Shepard owns Sea Tow on the reservoir. He knows all about the dangers that can bring.

"The Reservoir is a fairly shallow lake, and a lot of it is just flooded timber land. A lot of things are broken off at the water level now. They just get out of the channel, not being familiar with our waters, hit something, the boat sinks."

Sea Tow pulls damaged and stranded boats off the water. Retrieving a boat in floodwaters is dangerous for everyone involved...that's why officers will be ticketing or arresting anyone they find boating in flood areas. Perry Waggener, Ross Barnett Reservoir Police Chief reminds people who are able to find a place to boat, drinking and driving enforcement is not confined to just roads.

"Alcohol and boating don't mix any more than alcohol and cars do. It's our goal for everyone to have a safe and happy holiday because if the public has a safe and happy holiday then we do too."

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates there are are 8,000 boat accidents each year resulting in about 800 deaths.

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