Rumors hurt tourism in St. Francisville

Residents say most of the town is dry

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 4:49pm

Reports of high flood waters in lower St. Francisville have started to hurt the tourist town's economy. Plantations, bed and breakfasts, and motels have started receiving cancellations because tourists are afraid the whole town is under water.

"It's everyday," says Laurie Walsh. She's the interim director for the West Feliciana Tourist Commission. "At first people were just inquiring. Now, people are actually cancelling."

In reality, almost all of St. Francisville is high and dry, and it's expected to stay that way. "There's not a drop of water in St. Francisville nor will there be," says local historian Anne Butler.

Most of the town sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Residents say the area under water makes up a very small portion of the whole town. In fact, Mayor Billy D'Aquilla says only about 20 people, out of a population of 1,800, are affected directly by flooding. Those people live very close to the Mississippi River, near the ferry landing.

"One hundred yars of Ferdinand Street on the end is flooding. It's about six or seven houses and these people are used to it," he explains.

Unfortunately, tourists don't know this. "They just assume that we are under water," says Walsh.

That's bad news for people living in the area. "When people start cancelling, it trickles down to everybody," says Walsh. "It affects our grocery stores. It affects our gas station. It affects our whole economy."

If the tourists stop coming, the small town will take a big hit. "We would lose an enormous amount of income," says Butler.

That's why residents in St. Francisville want to reassure visitors.The tourist town is flood-free and open for business."We'd like to get some of this cleared up cause we need people here and we want them here."

Mississippi Rising

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