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Lakefest 2021 was more than just a party — it was a sign of recovery

Over the weekend, I visited Eagle Lake, and for the first time, understood the grave situation those who live at the water’s edge face every time it floods.

During the Backwater Flood, my husband and I would drive between Oxford and Vicksburg on Highway 61. Seeing the muddy water lapping at the roadside, seeing houses with doors piled high with sandbags in a futile effort to save all they had left, it was heartbreaking.

On one of these trips up and down Highway 61, I remarked to my husband, “How close are we to the river?”

He responded, “Sweetheart, we are in the river.”

Seeing firsthand the distance those floodwaters must cover to reach from Eagle Lake to Highway 61 was overwhelming. With the anniversary of the 2011 Mississippi River flood looming, I’d been researching for a special edition of The Vicksburg Post (stay tuned later this month for that), and the human toll these floods take is tremendous.

Dozens of our neighbors north of town forced to evacuate their homes — or worse, choosing to stay with their property in dangerous conditions. Acre upon acre of farmland and wildlife habitat destroyed. Months of cleanup and uncertainty once waters recede.

Life in that area, at least until the pumps are completed at long last, is not for the meek.

Still, as the first Lakefest in three years took place, the emotion I witnessed was hope. The residents of Eagle Lake truly took advantage of the joy they felt in the moment: a day when the waters were calm, a cool breeze was blowing, the sun was shining and most importantly, they were able to fellowship together. It could all be underwater tomorrow, but for that one day, they made the most of a good time.

Attendees and organizers of Lakefest were rejoicing in the moment. After their common community struggle with the Backwater Flood, and the universal struggle of the coronavirus pandemic, fortune finally favored those at the water’s edge.

While the gathering was humble, with fine arts vendors, local food stalls and good music, the significance of the occasion cannot be understated.

I can certainly say, my first Lakefest won’t be my last — good Lord willing and the river don’t rise.