Parish declares state of emergency

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015

NATCHEZ — Projections of a near-record Mississippi River level caused Concordia Parish to declare a state of emergency Tuesday, and Adams County is expected to do the same Monday.

Concordia Parish Homeland Security Director Payne Scott said the parish notified the state Tuesday of the declaration.

“Basically, for our parish, it opens up avenues for us to respond to emergencies in a quicker manner,” Scott said. “It gives us a one-up, where we have other avenues as far as dealing with other agencies.”

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A state of emergency allows local governments to assist residents and business owners in disaster situations and potentially receive reimbursements from state and federal emergency management agencies.

The National Weather Services’ Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center predicted Monday the river will rise to 60 feet on the gauge by Jan. 18.

Flood stage at the Natchez gauge is 48 feet. The only time water has been higher than the projected crest level in recorded history was the 2011 flood, when it crested at 61.95 feet.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland issued a statement Tuesday on the rising river.

“We are currently evaluating all alternatives to protect the city’s resources, while waiting on the United States Army Corps of Engineers update that will be released (today),” Copeland said. “We are closely monitoring the river stage and taking appropriate action as needed.”

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said he plans to request the board of supervisors declare a state of emergency at its Monday meeting.

Bradford said the river will likely reach flood stage by the weekend.

County Supervisor Mike Lazarus said City of Natchez and county officials met Tuesday to make sure both entities were on the same page and working together to plan for potential flooding.

In preparation for high water, Lazarus said the county is closing Carthage Point Road and Thornburg Lake Road at Anna’s Bottom Friday.

Natchez Mayor pro tem Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said she and representatives from Natchez Public Works, the police and fire departments, Natchez Water Works, the county road department, emergency management and other officials will meet at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the new 361 shelter for a conference call with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Arceneaux-Mathis said the city has been in contact with property owners in low-lying areas, and public works is also reviewing materials it needed during the 2011 flood to ensure the department is prepared.

“We have a flood management plan, we’ve had one for quite some time,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “We will look first at the safety of the people then the economic status of the businesses (that would be affected.) We pray that it doesn’t get that high, but you would rather be ready for it … than not.”