NEW ORLEANS – The rising waters of the Mississippi and the pictures of flooding in some more northern areas of the river have led to some misconceptions around the country that the Crescent City is in danger of flooding again.
The tourism industry has been fighting this perception and to date says they’ve been successful as they say many have inquired about the situation before coming here, but few, if any, have called off their plans.
Nicole Park of Kingwood, Texas is a good example.
She said she was determined to come to New Orleans, “come hell or high water.”
Though she laughs about it now, she said she called her hotel here twice – once two days before her trip and again the morning she was to leave, just to make sure.
“(I said) I’m not coming down there to get flooded and he was like, ‘No, mam, everything’s going to be OK.”
Tourism officials say they’ve fielded dozens of calls the past two weeks.
“As the waters first started to approach the city maybe about two weeks ago, I definitely think that was a challenge for our efforts to communicate that the city would not be affected by the same type of flooding that people were seeing in Illinois and Tennessee,” said Jennifer Day of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
It was, in part, pictures showing the devastating effects of flooding in Memphis that tourists say gave them pause when choosing to come down river to New Orleans.
“I didn't really know how Louisiana or I-10 might be affected,” said Dale Goodman of Thomasville, Georgia. “I just wanted to make sure that was going to remain open.”
For many, those concerns were quelled with the opening of the Morganza Spillway and reassurances from the hospitality industry to dispel any misconception that New Orleans would be flooded.
“I have not been made aware of one individual visitor or one group that has decided to cancel,” said Day.
Thursday, thousands of people checked in at the Morial Convention Center for the International Rotary Convention. It's one of three events in New Orleans expected to bring in a combined 36,000 people and have a $40 million impact.
"While there's great concern, and we're all concerned about these kinds of events, it's not going to stop the party here in New Orleans,” said Ron Burton of the Rotary Club. “We're going ahead full speed.”