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Coast Guard continues patrols on Mississippi River

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Posted: May 25, 2011 3:59 PM by Chris Nakamoto
Updated: May 25, 2011 6:45 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Flooding, Mississippi River, Traffic, Coast Guard, Baton Rouge, WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- The U.S. Coast Guard continues to keep a close eye on a section of the Mississippi River where three barges sank last week.

Workers are patrolling the river with boats, and requiring barges coming around a curve near "Southern University" to have assistance from special tow boats.

A five mile section of the river was closed last week after the barge crash. It reopened to northbound traffic Monday and southbound traffic on Tuesday. Despite that opening, at least 500 barges were stuck in a holding pattern as boats waited to bring their cargo down river.

"Hopefully within the next day or so we will have those vessels cleared through and have a normal operational scheme," Lt. Nick Parham said.

Onlookers near Southern University told News 2, they aren't concerned about the river but are worried for the people who could flood from it.

"We are seeing nature at it's best and worst," Tina Crowell said.

Her mother, Lois Roark, remembers the 1927 flood.

"I was a child," Roark said. "The water was so high in my mother's house, she picked up the iron bed and put my dress on it so I wouldn't fall into the water."

Roark said the flooding was made worse because there wasn't flood protection back then. The two watched as barges came down river less than 24 hours after river traffic reopened.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said restrictions are in place to prevent future crashes. Barges are only allowed to travel north or southbound one at a time. Also, captains can only navigate the waters during daylight hours.

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