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Red River Waterway Commission engineer: 'This is a pretty amazing flood'

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The Red River is expected to crest later this week just shy of flood stage in Shreveport and Alexandria. But it’s flooding at points between, including Coushatta and Grand Ecore, according to Colin Brown, engineering supervisor for the Natchitoches-based Red River Waterway Commission. He said Monday river conditions are deteriorating.

“This is a pretty amazing flood for the river. The other thing we have to watch is the flood control lakes up in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. They’re getting full because all the rain that was in the upper reaches of the valley. This could be an extended high water period,” Brown said.

Capt. Sandy Jackson has been navigating the Red River for more than 40 years. He operates the Spirit of the Red River Cruise from the Shreveport riverfront. He’s seen the river this high before. But his business drops off when it’s like this. He barely has any bank left to dock his boat. Under normal conditions, Jackson can carry several dozen passengers, but not now.

“It’s dangerous out there. The current is running four to five miles per hour. You’ve got a lot of big driftwood coming down the river. If you’re not an experienced boater, if you don’t know the river, and haven’t ran the rivers like this one when she’s running really hard, you don’t belong out there. The best thing to do is stay off of the river,” Jackson said.

Boat ramps will not reopen until the water recedes to a normal stage and cleanup is finished, according to Brown. That could be weeks from now. Capt. Sandy Jackson is watching the river each day to see what it will do. He says his boat cruise business is down to a trickle.

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