Tunica RiverPark reopens after massive flooding

(WMC-TV) - It has been nearly one year since massive flooding in Tunica, Mississippi, but one park is finally open again to the public

Homes and casinos were hit hard by the historic flood, but so was the Tunica RiverPark.

As the mighty Mississippi River rose, leaders moved artifacts out of the building, which serves as a museum, aquarium, and event center.

After water levels returned to normal, cleanup began on the park and now it is open to the public again.

Inside the aquarium on Tuesday, you could see a camera flash.

"I'm Larry Lain from Fort Worth, Texas, just driving through," said Lain.

If you check the Tunica Riverpark's guest book, you'll find visitors like Lain from all over.  Lain and his wife were taking a tour of the building Wednesday on their road trip home to Texas.

"This part of the country's got lots of history with the war stuff and the Mississippi River, a major river through the United States, and I just enjoy looking at that stuff," Lain said.

Last year, the surging river was about all the eye could see from the casinos, to the RiverPark. CEO Webster Franklin remembers it like it was yesterday.

"Everyone was saying the flood was coming from the north and when everything moved out I said, 'There's no way water is going to get in the facility,'" Franklin recalled.

But it did.

In preparation, Franklin said they moved just about everything out of the building, not knowing how long the water would stick around.

"When it finally receded, we were able to get into the building but the water stayed on the ground for a long time, six to eight weeks," said Franklin.

Now, after almost a year, visitors like Lain can look at fish from the river, wildlife from the region, and learn.

"This one sign out there said parts of the Mississippi are 200 feet deep, that never crossed my mind on the depth of the river," said Lain.

Franklin said improvements were made inside and outside of the building so that it could also be used for weddings, conferences, and special events.

"We put way too much time into developing a great product that people from all over the country could come and enjoy so we put it back and it's even better than before," Franklin said.

Franklin said he was excited that the park could reopen during exciting times for Tunica.

The town is getting ready for their annual RiverGate Festival this weekend.