Our Opinion: Danger lurks on sandbars
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Missouri River sandbars reflect the axiom that looks can be deceiving.
The sandbars may appear inviting, but they can be treacherous.
Authorities are warning the proliferation of sandbars — exposed by the prolonged drought — are tantamount to quicksand.
“If it’s really wet sand and there’s flowing water underneath it, that’s what quicksand is,” said Steve Barry, emergency management chief for the Corps of Engineers office in Memphis, Tenn.
“The other issue is that as the river flows by it undercuts,” Barry added. “You think you’re on a sandbar but you’re basically on a ledge. You put enough weight on it and you end up in the river.”
Corps officials point out that in 1988 — the last time the Missouri and Mississippi rivers were this low — at least seven deaths were attributed to drought-weakened sandbars.
The toll included three people who drowned near Natchez, Miss., as well as three children and an adult who attempted to save them after a sandbar collapsed near Ripley, Tenn.
Fishermen, boaters and hikers may be tempted to stroll along or set up camp on these seemingly safe, beach-like sandbars.
We urge people to avoid taking that dangerous step.