In Hannibal, exaggerated flood perceptions are worse than reality

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | 1:03 p.m. CDT; updated 6:28 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

HANNIBAL — After false reports that he had passed away, Mark Twain famously said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

The same is true of his hometown. Would-be visitors are staying away from the town that relies heavily on the annual influx of 500,000 tourists as perception of the flood here is worse than the reality.

Tourism director Beau Hicks is trying to get the word out that Hannibal’s historic downtown is protected by a flood levee built to withstand a crest more than 2 feet above the expected crest on Friday. The only tourist attraction unable to operate is the riverboat.

Still, the perception of the flood is keeping people away. Hicks says one hotel had 74 cancellations during a 12-hour period earlier this week.

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