Streets still closed

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

NATCHEZ — Though the turbulent Mississippi River is receding and land that has been covered for weeks now lies exposed, the city is not ready to reopen Silver Street and Roth Hill Road anytime soon.

Silver Street still has water covering a portion of its base while Roth Hill Road no longer has water covering its paved areas.

Aside from the standing water, things are back to normal on Silver at Magnolia Grill, which was closed due to plumbing issues, and Under the Hill Saloon, which had to place a portable bathroom on its porch.

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The Isle of Capri casino boat has been closed since April 13, when the water hit around 55.5 feet, but it may still be a week before the doors are opened, City Engineer David Gardner said.

Though the forecast, as of Monday afternoon, showed the water at 53.4 feet, Gardner said just because the water has fallen to a level where the boat was still operating, it’s not the same.

“It’s not a mirror at all,” he said. “Every day stands on its own.”

He said the Isle is no longer maintaining the sandbags that were being used to keep the floodwaters at bay, which is causing more water to be on the road than before.

“It also can’t be like the flipside because as the water is receding down it’s leaving silt and debris,” Gardner said. “You have a time factor in there on cleaning up the road.”

He said the entryways to the boat are blocked by debris and it’s going to take several days for the Isle to clean it up.

He said it would not be possible for the Isle to open to boat immediately.

Gardner said the situation on Silver Street will be reassessed next week.

John Moran, interim general manager for the Isle of Capri, said hotel and casino officials have not had a discussion with the city about reopening the boat.

As far as Roth Hill Road, the city is in no hurry to reopen the road, Gardner said.

“There’s some erosion that has occurred and I like for the river to get down a bit to assess the damage,” Gardner said. “I see some evidence of some pretty good erosion next to the pavement.”

A large chunk of the earthen embankment has been washed away, but Gardner said it shouldn’t be too difficult to fix.

“What we would probably do is come back with rock and fill the holes,” he said.

In addition to that, the city will also have to clean the silt and debris off the road and unclog the storm drain.

“There’s no reason for me to open it up now and I’d rather for the river to go down a little bit more to see if there’s any erosion next to the pavement,” Gardner said.

Looking at the river forecast for the week, Gardner said it may be a while before the water gets down to a manageable level.

The river will significantly drop from Monday’s 53.4 to 52.2 today and by Wednesday it will be 51.5.

On Thursday it will drop merely to 51.3 and then stay there, Gardner said.

“So that means that it’s crested, a lower crest,” Gardner said. “Either it’s going to go back up or be such a slow fall that it’s going to drag this thing out.”

“We just have to wait and see what Mother Nature does,” Gardner said.