Water, mud top ditch, cover yard on Railroad Alley

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 10, 2004

Ida Johnson stands outside her home Thursday on Railroad Alley, which flooded after heavy rains. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/10/04]Ida Johnson says the river of mud through her front yard was caused by municipal crews who dug a new ditch near her home and she wants the city to clean up the mess.

Johnson, 94 Railroad Alley, said Vicksburg crews dug the new drainage canal two months ago to accept water off Washington Street, but 4.15 inches of rain Thursday morning was more that it would handle. The excess overflowed across her yard, bringing mud and muck.

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She has lived in the frame home for 39 years, and her parents have been there longer, and all agreed the problems began with the city work.

“The city said this was an act of God and sure enough it was, but this didn’t start until they started digging,” Johnson said.

Thunderstorms early Thursday morning dropped 2 inches of rain in the first 30 minutes after midnight and brought the total rainfall for the month up to 8.13 inches.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said this morning that crews were on their way to clean out the ditch, but not Johnson’s yard or her neighbors’ at least not today.

“I don’t believe we dug a ditch that caused this, but if we did, then we are responsible and will take care of it,” Leyens said.

Railroad Alley is a short stretch off Pittman Road across the railroad tracks that run parallel to North Washington Street just north of the harbor. There are about 10 homes along Railroad Alley including the homes of Johnson, her parents, a cousin and other relatives.

Johnson, who is a nurse, said she worked the late shift Wednesday and got home just as the bad weather started, but about two hours later, mud was flowing through her yard and water had started seeping in part of the house.

She said the city dug the ditch across the tracks from Railroad Alley, but she believes it wasn’t dug deep enough to handle the amount of water coming down the hill from Washington Street.

Her parents, Cornelius and Helen Johnson, live just up the street at 150 Railroad Alley. Their yard didn’t get as muddy, but Cornelius Johnson said the city should do something.

“I don’t know what the problem is, but I feel they are responsible for this,” he said.

Ida Johnson said that every time she tried to talk to the city about the problem, she got the run-around and felt like no one there was willing to do anything.

“They tell me, We’ll see what we can do,’ but, in the meantime, what are we supposed to do?” she asked.

The area is listed on flood maps as a flood zone and building codes require homes in that area to be elevated. Ida Johnson’s home is elevated in the front, but the back of the house, where water seeped in through the walls, is not.