Under-the-Hill cleans up

Published 12:03 am Friday, June 10, 2011

NATCHEZ — Silver Street is cleared of Hesco Bastion instant levees as of Wednesday, and the excess sand has been vacuumed up.

“We’re probably going to start moving in and cleaning up debris in the street as soon as the river recedes to about 50 or 51 feet,” City Engineer David Gardner said.

The river stood at 54.9 feet Thursday evening.

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About a foot of silt stands on Silver Street toward the casino, he said.

“I understand the Isle of Capri is going to be in there doing some clean up, too,” Gardner said. “We’re going to try to get the bulk of the silt out of there and then kind of let them do the finer stuff.”

As the river goes down, he said, the barricade is being moved north toward Cooper Street.

Roth Hill remains closed, because it’s still too soon to assess damage.

“It’s hard to tell if erosion has occurred there, but I kind of expect that it has,” he said.

The sewage lift on Silver Street is functional, and the pumps are working properly, Gardner said.

“More than likely what we’ll do when the river gets down is assess the problems that occurred from the flood and try to be proactive, meaning that we may go ahead and try to build a retaining wall so we won’t have to sandbag (the sewage lift) anymore,” he said.

Additionally, Gardner said, the city might decide to raise the electrical control panels higher so that in the event of another flood, there would be no need to worry about them.

“We’ll decide that in the next two or three months,” he said. “I hope that we never get a flood like that again, but we’re getting higher floods more frequently.

“(We’ll probably) have some significant floods in the next 10 years, so we should be more prepared.”

However, Gardner said he’s not too concerned about erosion on Silver Street.

“I’m sure some is present, but it’s not threatening,” he said. “It’s more of a nuisance than anything. There’s not a whole lot of room (for businesses) left there, so we really don’t want to even lose an inch.”

He said he expects that the Corps of Engineers will put more rock on the bankline.

The storm that passed through June 3 damaged some of the Isle of Capri administration building’s carpet, because the Hesco walls trapped the rainwater and forced it into the building, Gardner said.

City crews helped clear out the water.

Overall, Gardner said, everyone was lucky, because there was only one significant rainfall, and the Hesco baskets would have boxed in all of the rainwater.

“Unfortunately, it had to rain (significantly) the Friday before the Monday we were getting ready to remove the baskets,” he said.

Denton Biglane, whose family owns much of Under-the-Hill, said his insurance company surveyed the damage Thursday, but they haven’t yet given an estimate.

“As long as the river doesn’t come up again, I’m not worried,” Biglane said.

Angela Magee, a server at Magnolia Grill, said she noticed a slight increase in customers Thursday after the Hesco baskets were removed.

“The road was just completely cleared today,” she said Thursday. “But it’s definitely better than it was (Wednesday). It’s not completely back to normal, though.”

The casino plans to open somewhere around 47 or 48 feet.

“First things first,” he said. “We had to get rid of the Hesco baskets, now we’re moving sand.

“The third thing is to get the silt out of the street, the fourth thing is opening the streets and the fifth thing is opening the casino.”

Silver Street is open to two-way traffic.