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Wednesday’s heavy rains create flash flooding

 

NATCHEZ — More than 4 inches of rain from midday storms flooded streets and created hazardous driving conditions for residents across the area.

Natchez Realtor Dianne Brown said she was headed to an open house when she spotted a car in the Montebello Gardens subdivision nearly submerged by water.

Driving her SUV near Turtle Lane, Brown said she spotted the car as it was turning into the subdivision where the road takes a dip.

The car, Brown said, was suddenly halfway submerged by water. Brown said she was also surrounded by water but that her SUV was able to get out without any trouble.

“I realized how fast (flash flooding) can happen,” Brown said.

Across the river in Vidalia, drivers in low-lying areas were also experiencing similar flash flooding problems.

Mayor Buz Craft said the town’s drainage systems could not keep up with the amount of rain that fell in such a short amount of time.

Craft said the town received more than 4.5 inches of rain Wednesday when the storm system moved across the area at approximately 11:30 a.m.

National Weather Service hydrologist Marty Pope in Jackson said radar estimates show the Natchez area received anywhere from 3.5 to 4 inches of rain with heavier concentrations along the Mississippi River.

Pope said radar estimates tend to underestimate actual rainfall amounts.

Motorists on John Dale Drive in Vidalia drove through flooded spots — some with floodwaters rising to the underside of small cars.

Craft said low areas in the town, including areas behind Vidalia High School, near Apple Street and Concordia Extension experienced flooding.

“Four and a half inches is a significant rain in such a short period of time,” Craft said. “We have not experienced a rain like this in a while.”

Craft said he suspects that some areas of the Vidalia Canal that helps drain the area have restrictions that need to be cleared, but that all of the drainage pumps in the town were working Wednesday.

“There could be some restrictions up and down the canal that need to be addressed,” Craft said.

Craft said some storm drains could also be filled with leaves that have been blown into the streets by residents — a practice Craft said residents have been asked not to do. The leaves clog the drainage system and impede the flow of water, Craft said.

Craft said the town is in conversation with the Concordia Parish Police Jury and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help address long-term drainage problems and develop a master plan, including what Craft hopes will be the addition of pumping stations on the north and south sides of Vidalia.

Craft said any residents who have flooding issues or need sandbags should call his office.

“We can’t help what the Lord sends,” Craft said. “All we can do is be proactive and do what we can to help residents.”

Natchez Public Works Director Justin Dollar did not respond to requests for comment about how the city’s infrastructure fared during the flash flood.

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