May 19th, 2011
04:14 PM ET

Family legacy threatened to be swept away by floods

Howard Jones' family has been in the lumber business in Natchez, Mississippi, a charming town on the eastern banks of the mighty Mississippi River, for five generations. Now the swollen river was threatening to sweep away their operation and the family’s legacy.

Jones was covered in sweat and dirt, and after about 10 minutes, I was too. The JM Jones Lumber Co. is a dry, dusty place to work. Fine, powdery sand constantly sloughs off the bluff above it, wafting its way down into the yard where it mixes with sawdust. My boots and pant legs, our vehicles and equipment, were coated in it. Odd really, as there has never been so much water so close.

Just three weeks ago, Jones received warning that the river would go to 60 feet or higher. The lumber yard is right on the banks - well below the bluff above it that serves as a natural levee -  so they were forced to suspend operations and go into the levee building business.

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Filed under: Mississippi • Weather