Residents want help on drainage problems

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – A group of Vidalia residents plan to present a petition to the Vidalia Board of Aldermen tonight, asking that measures be taken to improve drainage in their neighborhood.

Last Wednesday afternoon’s storms dumped four to five inches of rain on Vidalia, causing low-lying areas like Miranda Drive, Simonton Lane and adjacent streets to flood.

Although most residents said that only their yards and outdoor sheds flooded, Simonton Lane resident and petition organizer Debbie Brocato said flood water made rose into two of her bedrooms.

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&uot;We’re asking that the town look into what can be done about this drainage. We’ve been here nine years, and this is the worst I’ve seen it,&uot; Brocato said. She believes one solution would be to clean out ditches near the subdivision.

But Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the ditches are not clogged and further improving them will not help the flooding problems because even though water is making it to the Vidalia Canal, the bayou the canal empties into — Cocodrie Bayou — is clogged.

&uot;That bayou is designated as a scenic waterway,&uot; Copeland said, referring to a government designation that makes it difficult to get permits to make improvements on such waterways. &uot;The water gets there fine, but then it backs up and doesn’t have anywhere to go.&uot;

Reggie Walker, who lives on the corner of Miranda and Simonton, hopes that something can be done to improve drainage.

Wednesday’s rain flooded his yard and a storage shed.

&uot;We had left for church and when we came back, we couldn’t get back in,&uot; Walker said. &uot;We got through the water in our truck, but another car had stalled in the street.&uot;

Still, some said the problem would have been more severe if improvements had not been made to the Vidalia Canal, the area’s main drainage canal.

&uot;It got up to my sidewalk,&uot;&160;said Miranda Drive resident Jane Greer, pointing to a sidewalk that lies just shy of her front door. &uot;But the rains aren’t often that bad, … and if the canal hadn’t been improved it would have been much worse.&uot;

Wednesday’s storms were the first major test of the canal’s water-moving capacity since canal improvements were completed several months ago, especially since the area was plagued with drought this summer.

Those improvements included widening the canal and lining the part that travels through the town with concrete to aid water flow and prevent erosion.

&uot;If that canal had not moved water like it did, we could have had some serious problems,&uot; Copeland said.

In the &uot;orchard&uot; area of Vidalia, which consists of Apple and nearby streets, a few houses and some yards also flooded Wednesday.

&uot;The problem, I think, is that some of these driveways don’t have culverts under them,&uot; said Faye King. &uot;I think (the town needs) to install them all the way down the street.&uot;

Others said there appeared to be problems pumping the water from the area. But Copeland said that area’s water pump was working fine — it just had to move much more water than average.

&uot;It was what you call a ’25-year flood’,&uot;&160;Copeland said.

Still others, especially those whose property backs up to the canal, said the canal seemed to have done its job well.

&uot;Before the canal (improvements), it would have come all the way up in our back yard, and there’s never been that much rain since we’ve lived here,&uot; said Kitty Smith, who has lived on Azalea Drive 12 years.

Flood waters are &uot;usually wanting to come up in the yard,&uot; said neighbor Cliff Leake. &uot;The canal did its job.&uot;

Chief Nolen Cothren of Concordia Fire District No. 2, who worked with his firefighters throughout the area during the storm, said water rushed down the canal at an unprecedented rate.

&uot;I stood on the bridge near the industrial park and watched it at one point, and that water just flew by,&uot;&160;Cothren said. &uot;I think the canal was doing all it could do.&uot;