Officials do not know extent of flood damage yet

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — A truck passes a seepage puddle Tuesday afternoon on Concordia Avenue in Vidalia. Seepage puddles are spread throughout Vidalia, as a result of the Mississippi River flood. Local officials say the water that occurs during high flood periods should not alarm residents.

NATCHEZ — The city of Vidalia is at least a week to 10 days from knowing just what kind of damage the greatest Mississippi River flood in history inflicted on its infrastructure, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

Tuesday, Copeland toured the city’s flood in a boat to assess any visible damage, but he said there’s no way to tell how the roads, sewage system or buildings fared.

“We’ll have no idea until the water goes down exactly what kind of damage we may have, not only on the riverfront but also inside the city itself,” Copeland said. “Hopefully we don’t have a tremendous amount of damage.

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“There are certain things you have to do that you have to go through the guidelines of (the Federal Emergency Managem

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Erica Jackson, below, passes a seepage puddle on her way to the Sandbar restaurant Tuesday.

ent Agency), and that takes a little time.”

The river levels continue a slow drop, standing at 60.72 feet Tuesday night, down from a 61.9 crest last week.

To appraise damages to underground areas, Copeland said, the city will employ a camera system.

“There’s an old saying: You hope for the best, expect the worst,” he said. “Hopefully, we

don’t have any major defective issues.”

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said the city is carefully keeping inventory of the money spent on emergency measures, as well as future expenses like debris clean up and replacing equipment.

FEMA divides costs into a number of categories.

“We have to get a new sewer pump … but that might not qualify to be reimbursed,” he said. “What may qualify is a refurbished pump, but I don’t have time to do that.

“That’s another $20,000, easy. Maybe $30,000,” he said.