Mississippi sandbars hold unexpected, potentially deadly dangers | News
MEMPHIS, TN- (WMC-TV) - The Mighty Mississippi does not seem so mighty these days. The low river level has exposed sand bars and the coast guard is cautioning people to beware.
"There's as many sandbars on the river as there are beaches in Florida," said Steve Barry, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends people stay away and keep off.
"It's a very powerful river. Not one to be taken lightly," said Barry. "It's obviously interesting to walk out there on those sandbars. But back in 1988 we actually had some unfortunate deaths of people playing on the sandbars."
With the owner's permission, Action News 5 drove through overgrown private farmland, parked the truck when it could go no further, and walked onto a sandbar on the Arkansas side of the river.
Aside from the magnificent view, all Nick Kenney found was a hot, desolate wasteland. Some of the Mississippi mud is dried up and cracked, while other parts were soft, soggy, and hard to walk on.
"The Army Corps recommends staying off of any sandbars," said Lt. Ryan Gomez, United States Coast Guard.
But the coast guard is prepared for any emergency.
"Part of the coast guard's mission is search and rescue," said Lt. Gomez. "The best way to prevent that is to take safety precautions on your own to prevent that situation."
Currently, the river's current flows past at three feet per second. That is swift enough to sweep someone off of a sandbar's edge.
"If you're not familiar with the river, you're not going to know is it undercutting the sandbar or not. You think you're on solid ground and then all of a sudden you're not," explained Barry.
The deaths Barry referenced were three children and the adult who tried to save them. That accident happened in 1988 when the river hit an all-time low of -10.7 feet.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts the river will hit -9.5 feet next week.
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