ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT The remainder of the Hesco Bastion instant levees rest, nicely folded, on the Vidalia Riverfront Friday afternoon. The parish received the needed federal approval to receive reimbursements for repairs.

Parish flood costs covered

Published 12:07am Saturday, August 20, 2011

VIDALIA — With clean-up work on the Vidalia Riverfront coming to an end, Concordia Parish officials had another reason to smile Thursday when President Obama declared Louisiana a major federal disaster area.

Executive officer of operations for disaster recovery with the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness James Clark said the declaration will allow federal assistance for the repair of infrastructure damaged by the levees.

“Any permanent work needed on roads, buildings, bridges or any public infrastructure will be covered,” he said.

Clark said the declaration will qualify Concordia Parish under emergency measures A through G for disaster recovery.

“This is only for public infrastructure, and it will pay 75 percent of the damages that were incurred during the flood,” he said.

The City of Vidalia was previously declared under a “category B” emergency measure, meaning it could be reimbursed for any protective measures it has taken against the flood, including Hesco Bastion instant levee placement and removal, Clark said.

“The parish is also getting reimbursed for 75 percent of their flood fighting expenses,” he said.

The city already received $684,000 for preparation expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this month, and Mayor Hyram Copeland said the additional help through the declaration is much needed.

“This gives us an opportunity to repair our streets and parking facilities on the riverfront,” he said. “It is going to have a major impact on that.”

Copeland said many portions of the roads and parking facilities on the riverfront have buckled up, creating problems.

Copeland said the declaration will also help with some minor structural damage to the riverwalk.

The mayor said the city is still checking to see if there is any structural damage to any buildings on the riverfront, and that, as of yet, none has been found.

“We are still waiting to get with our engineer to check on this,” he said. “If we do find any problems, we are going to report them immediately.”

Copeland said cleanup on the riverfront has been going extremely well, and that in the next three to four weeks, the whole process should be complete.

“We have all the Hesco baskets removed, so now all we have to do finish removing all the sand,” he said.

As the cleanup has continued, Copeland said he has seen life on the riverfront slowly start to return to normal.

“They are booking events for the convention center, all the parking lots are full and you are seeing people walking in and out of every building,” he said. “I have been amazed at how fast this whole process has gone.”

  • http://www.CTKellyisnotacommonist.com Charles Thomas Kelly

    Remember this next time you wanna blame it on the black guy Vidalia…..

  • Anonymous

    In another ‘age’ when I sat in the class room with Hyram Copeland, little did I know that he would become the ‘White Knight’ for Vidalia that he is. We all can rest assured that every cent will be spent as it should be, for the betterment of our little hometown. Thank you Hyram and all those who stand behind you to get the work done. 

  • Anonymous

    I CAN’T SAY ENOUGHT ABOUT OUR PRESIDENT; NO MATTER HOW BUSY HIS WORK SCHEDULE ; HE DON’T FORGET THE NEEDED. IF HE WAS PRESIDENT WHEN NEW ORLEANS WAS HIT; IT PROBLY WOULD LOOK LIKE NEW YORK. OBAMA AND COPELAND ; FOR 2012, THAT WOULD BE A GOOD TICKET. BORN LEADERS ARE EASY TO PICK OUT.

  • Ham Bone

    The river crested on May 19.  Obama finally signed this on Thursday August, 18.  THREE MONTHS later.  How busy his work schedule? He’s been campaigning all week and is now on another of his many vacations.  He doesn’t work, he takes from those that do and gives to those that won’t.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UX7XYU4UB5AB62BTT4MABFNNQY Jalisa

    Thanks to hyram copeland vidalia have been taking care of there business for a long time. Obama needs thanks to if he had to campaign for his seat than think about our little town down here shows he is trying to hear everyone voice. You can’t ask for it better than that. When Katrina hit how many months did it take for the president to come to aid there town? I know even longer.

  • Ham Bone

    Bush issued a Federal State of Emergency days before Katrina made landfall.  Obama “comes to the rescue” three months after the fact. If you think Obama cares so much, where is he?  He promises hope and change for the little guy, yet if you want to find him, you have to attend meetings with the rich union leaders.  If he truly cared he’d be in the Mississippi delta where they desperately need hope and change, he’d visit poor Louisiana towns and bring jobs and awareness to the area.  But instead he’s on a million dollar Canadian built motor home campaigning and planning his next vacation.  I don’t so much mind the vacations, because at least he’s not raising taxes or enacting moratoriums and regulations that hold this country back. 

  • Anonymous

    Most of the people don’t want to be “led” into a recession by this born leader.