Rain gnaws at street near Fort Hill, canal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 27, 2003

(2/27/03)A portion of a north Vicksburg street will remain closed after heavy rains and erosion this week began threatening the roadway.

City officials said Wednesday that repairs to parts of Hugo Street that run along the west side of Fort Hill may not happen until this summer. A handful of homes are located on the short stretch of road that overlooks the Yazoo Diversion Canal.

“We’ve been trying to get something done about this for a long time,” said Louis Spencer who owns land in the area. “A lot of those people who live up there are elderly.”

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James “Bubba” Rainer, head of the city’s public works division, said there have been problems with erosion in the Fort Hill area since he began working for Vicksburg 26 years ago. He said part of Hugo Street has had to be closed because a large chunk of earth and mud fell away from near the edge of the roadway.

Frequent mudslides are common from Fort Hill onto North Washington Street. This time, mud landed on city property behind the city street department, forcing employees to remove some trucks and equipment from the area.

“There is just no way to stop it unless you spend a tremendous amount of money,” Rainer said.

Rutha Bell Level, 518 Dallas St., said she has lived on Fort Hill for about 60 years and is more worried than ever.

“There’s a hill behind me, and I’m worried about it coming down, especially with all this rain,” Level said.

Rainer said city crews were checking utility lines that run under Hugo Street to make sure that none are being threatened by the sloughing. He also said repairs probably cannot be made until after the ground has had more time to dry.

“If we don’t get some help soon, we’re going to have to take this to another level,” Spencer said.

Spencer said the city and county should be finding ways to protect homes in the area from sliding down the hill.

Rainer said the city previously has been involved in a federal buyout program that moved many people from the Fort Hill area when homes were threatened.