Rain leaves earthslides in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Against the predictions of some, the sun did emerge in Natchez again Thursday afternoon.

But the days of saturating rains over the last three weeks have already caused mudslides and sinkholes so numerous that City Engineer David Gardner has lost track.

They have ranged from a small hole in front of the Natchez Post Office to a slide on Learned’s Mill Road that &uot;was about 150 truckloads of dirt,&uot; said City Engineer David Gardner.

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&uot;Once it dries out enough, we can bring (public works) crews in to shore it up with more dirt,&uot; Gardner said.

The good news? Stabilization work that was done on the bluff from 1998 to 2001 is still holding up well despite slides on the bottom of the bluff, Gardner said.

During those years, the U.S. Corps of Engineers supervised a multi-million-dollar bluff stabilization project that included the area from Clifton Avenue to Silver Street.

Five slides along Learned’s Mill Road and two slides along Roth Hill Road did damage some pipes that drain water from behind the retaining mall &045; a problem that will be repaired as soon as possible, Gardner said. &uot;If we waited a few years to correct it, we might have a problem on our hands, but we don’t right now,&uot; he said.

Other significant mudslides have also appeared on St. Catherine’s Creek near Woodville Drive, Quail Creek near Duster Drive and at Ridge Manor Apartments.

&uot;Any time we have these slow, soaking rains, it saturates the soil. And we have a lot of vertical slopes with bayous, so it’s sloughing off just about everywhere,&uot; Gardner said.

Still, he said, &uot;We can’t go on private property to correct them, but we could apply for soil conservation grants to help fix them if the Natural Resource Conservation Service Š would deem it an emergency.&uot;

But if correspondence between Adams County and the Natural Resource Conservation Service is any indication, that help could be on the way.

On Wednesday, Adams County Road Manager Bobby Powell received a letter from the NRCS notifying him that an emergency had been declared.

That’s good news, because unincorporated Adams County has had quite a few mudslides itself.

&uot;Every available time we can work, we’ve been removing them,&uot; Powell said. &uot;In the cases of ones that do block part of the road, we have an emergency call-out crew that’s notified by the Sheriff’s Office.&uot;

Two slides, one on Old Meadville Road and one on Quitman Road, had to be removed during the night because they were partially obstructing traffic.

The county has received several requests about washes on private property &045; slides on Pineview Drive, West Wilderness Road, Prince Addition and Martin Luther King Jr. Road among them.

And Powell, the county’s engineer and, in some cases, the county’s attorney are checking them personally to see whether the county can legally help.

Except in cases where the damage is caused by the county or is endangering a road, the county cannot legally help, he said.

Meanwhile, the city and county are working on Emergency Watershed Program projects, which are funded with soil conservation grants.

The city’s projects include erosion control work at the city’s waterworks lagoon and near Elms Court. Engineers are now drawing up plans for the county’s EWP work, Powell said.