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Ripple effect

Many vessels are stopped in their tracks along the Mississippi River this week as the Coast Guard and other authorities clear away debris left by Hurricane Ike. Portions of The Great Loop, a popular circumnavigation of eastern North American inland waterways, are blocked, according to The Miami Herald.

Dozens of boats, many crewed by members of the nine-year-old America’s Great Loop Association, remained stalled along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. In addition to debris, Midwest runoff from the storm feeding into the already overflowing waterways has created treacherous currents for some pleasure boats. Recreational traffic has been banned from at least 75 miles of the upper Mississippi River from Chester, Ill., southeast of St. Louis, to near Granite City, Ill., according to the Coast Guard.

Roughly four dozen “Loopers,” members of the association, are unable to resume their trek to an annual reunion at an Alabama state park.

“It’s going to go on the rest of this week,” says Lt. Chuck Mellor of the Coast Guard’s St. Louis office. “It’s really hard to guess because the river changes daily.”

Restrictions in Texas have been somewhat alleviated, according to a recent Coast Guard press release. The Houston Ship Channel from the Sea Buoy to the Turning Basin has opened up for both day and night transits, and the waterway in Freeport is open to vessels with drafts of 38 feet or less during daylight hours and 30 feet or less at night. Boaters are advised that aids to navigation may be displaced, and to use extreme caution when traveling through an area.

— Elizabeth Ellis