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River City Rumble postponed; new date July 30

Many Demopolis residents breathed a sigh of relief when Hurricane Dennis did less damage to the area than had been originally projected. But hurricanes don’t come through without having some kind of impact, and Dennis’s has forced the postponement of the 2005 River City Rumble.

The third annual Rumble, a speed boat racing event sponsored by the Outdoor Drag Boat Association (ODBA) and held each year at the Demopolis City Landing, was originally scheduled for this weekend, July 16 and 17. But with Dennis dumping inch after inch of rain across west Alabama and northeast Mississippi, conditions on the water will not be safe enough by Saturday to allow the boats to race. The event will instead be held the last weekend of July, July 30 and 31.

The decision was made by the River city Rumble’s organizers at a meeting held Tuesday morning in which they consulted with the Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the Demopolis Yacht Basin, and other groups monitoring river conditions. The consensus was that with the river projected to rise well above flood level and substantial amounts of storm debris littering the river surface, there was little choice but to postpone the event.

“They’re predicting that the river will be 12 to 15 feet above flood stage,” says Demopolis’s J.R. Suttles, an ODBA member and a participant in the Rumble. “We’re going to have full-length trees floating down the river…[The ODBA] haven’t lost anybody for three years and we don’t want to lose anybody now.”

Suttles says the remarkably high speeds reached by the drag boats mean that even small debris can become a major problem.

“You can hit a matchbox if you’re running at 130 [miles per-per-hour],” Suttles said, “and tear the bottom out of it.”

Kelley Smith of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the Rumble, admitted that the postponement was “a little frustrating.” But she added that the postponement still meant only relatively minor “logistical” problems for the Chamber, such as informing participants and food vendors and re-entering the permit process.

“This will provide the racers with safer conditions, so we’re happy to do that,” Smith said. “We don’t really look for this to affect the turnout.”

As with before the postponement, the Rumble will begin at noon each of the two days, July 30 and 31, and end at approximately 6 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 12. For more information, contact the Chamber at 289-0270.