Rodney nearly covered in water

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Michael Kerekes/The Natchez Democrat — Rodney Presbyterian Church sits just feet away from the water. Residents estimate that approximately 95 percent of the community is underwater.

RODNEY — Freda Piazza, 90, remembers asking her late husband Salvador how far the river got up to their house during the flood on 1927.

The Piazzas were planning on building their house right on the outskirts of downtown Rodney, a community along the Mississippi River to the north of Natchez, and Freda wanted to know if the place would be at risk of flooding.

“When we were building, he told me, ‘that tree,’ and I thought he was referring to a sycamore tree at least a half a mile from the house,” Piazza said.

Michael Kerekes/The Natchez Democrat — Much of Rodney is underwater, including the workshop of resident Harold Williams. Williams is using pumps to keep water from filling the structure.

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“We ended up building it here, and I asked him once again, and come to find out, it was the tree right here in the backyard.”

Piazza’s house rests right along the river, and this year’s monster flood gave Piazza and her family quite a close call. Piazza’s daughter and son-in-law now share the house with her, and the floodwaters made the river as close as 40 feet to her door, she said.

“I told my husband once that if the water ever gets to the house, I’m leaving,” Piazza said. “It never got to my house for 50 years, even before this flood. But this year, I said I felt I’d just invite the alligators in for a grand old party.”

Despite the record flooding of the river in Rodney, Piazza said she never felt like leaving despite the threat.

“I said, ‘Lord I don’t believe You’ll let it take this house. You’ve been good to me all these years.’ And he didn’t (let her house flood),” she said.

People living in the heart of Rodney were not as fortunate. Rodney resident Harold Williams said he was one of the few residents whose house wasn’t hit by water, although the workshop next to his residence saw some flooding.

“Except for this house, and the house next door, everyone else is flooded,” Williams said Friday. “It wasn’t as bad as it was a few days ago, but it’s bad enough.”

Williams estimated that approximately 95 percent of downtown Rodney was underwater. A levee was constructed around his residence to help shield the place from the floodwaters.

“It’s scary,” he said. “I haven’t even slept in the house, but in a camper on the hill ever since it started getting high.”

And the problems that come along with the flooding have left Williams very frustrated, he said.

“It’s costing a serious amount of money,” Williams said. “We’re doing the best we can, but from what we’ve been told, FEMA can’t give us help for those of us (protected by levees).

“They’ll give every Tom, Dick and Harry who didn’t protect their house get money, but not the ones that did.”

And Williams wasn’t very happy about those reports.

“That don’t make no sense. It frustrates me just talking about it,” he said.

Williams said the water has gone down in town at least two feet since the May 19 crest of 61.95 feet on the Natchez gauge, but he’s still without land line phone service and he can’t get radio stations.

“I (also) can’t pick up Jackson (stations) on the TV, only Monroe,” he said. “I just depend on my neighbor to tell me (the latest info).”

For now, all Williams can do is try to keep the floodwaters damaging his workshop at bay.

“If we don’t pump, it gets serious,” Williams said.

Floodwaters are receding in Rodney. The river stood at 59.24 on the Natchez gauge Monday night.