Corps role in rebuilding limited

Published 12:29 am Tuesday, April 15, 2008

VIDALIA — When the swollen Mississippi River begins to retreat back down the riverbanks of the Miss-Lou, what role the U.S. Corps of Engineers can play in repairing the Vidalia Riverfront may be limited.

The damage that has been caused so far is largely cosmetic, U.S. Corps of Engineers Spokesperson Frank Whorley said.

“From the limited survey data we have taken, the revetment is still intact,” Whorley said. “It is not uncommon to have upper bank chipping or erosion.”

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The concrete revetment is akin to a large concrete mat that keeps the river from eroding the riverbank.

The reason the corps may be limited in what it can do is because the navigation channel on the eastern side — or Natchez side — of the river is well defined.

“Since the navigation channel is defined on the east side, that would determine what assistance we could give other than advice,” Whorley said. “That defines what authority we have to use money to do work.”

When the water recedes, the corps will do a site visit and give technical advice to the city for sure, Whorley said.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he looks forward to working with the corps.

“We’ll sit down with them and talk about our issues, and hopefully we can come up with some solutions to our problems,” Copeland said. “Surely, they would be willing to work with us to address our erosion problems like they are in Natchez.”

Along with the corps, Copeland said he plans to talk with both the congressional and state delegations for the area about the matter.

The river currently stands at approximately 55.8 feet, and is expected to crest April 20 at 56.5 feet.