Among ‘normal’ flood debris, ‘This is people’s lives’ Man found in flooded home charged with theft of fixtures

Published 11:45 am Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kenneth Bolden stood in the lot adjacent to a house on Railroad Alley Wednesday morning and watched a track hoe load the last bit of a pile of flood debris into a Vicksburg Street Department truck.

Bolden is a debris monitor — one of four hired by the city to ensure that the flood debris collected by city employees complies with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations. Minutes before, he stopped the operator from dropping into the truck a load of debris that included a computer monitor.

Computer monitors are prohibited under the FEMA regulations, Bolden said. Other items include tires, batteries, used oil and antifreeze, such household chemicals as pesticides and paint, and propane gas cylinders.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

So far, Bolden said, he’s seen nothing unusual.

“Just normal household items,” he said.

But he added those items were more than just debris.

“This is people’s lives,” Bolden said as he watched the load go in the truck.

Evidence of family histories was scattered throughout the debris piles being collected in Kings Wednesday.

A pile on Hutson Street contained the broken headboard, footboard and mattress of a double bed, along with other bedding and furniture.

Other debris piles in the area held furniture, clothing, children’s toys and other items. A load of debris on Railroad Alley included several quilts and bedspreads, which dangled from the bucket as they were lifted into the truck. Metal objects and broken glass tinkled to the ground as the load moved to the truck.

But while city crews were removing debris in Kings Wednesday, a Vicksburg man was doing a different kind of removal, Police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

He said Michael Dewayne Davis, 33, 2501 Franklin St., was arrested about 12:02 p.m. Wednesday on Jefferson Circle for the alleged theft of bathroom fixtures from a house in the 300 block of Ford Road.

He said Davis was being held without bond at the Warren County Jail pending an initial appearance Friday in Vicksburg Municipal Court. He added Davis was on probation for possession of cocaine and was wanted by police for sale of marijuana.

Armstrong said two relatives of the homeowner who were checking on the house walked in on Davis about 11:55 a.m. and called police when he fled.

“We have a strong police presence in that area, and were able to catch him pretty soon after we were called,” Armstrong said. “Looting is not going to be tolerated in the city. We are not going to allow people to steal from folks who were forced out of their homes because of the flood.”

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Friday authorized city workers and equipment to begin collecting flood debris. In an attempt to receive FEMA reimbursement for at least part of the debris disposal, it must be monitored by federally sanctioned experts such as Bolden.

The city is paying $1,120 for four monitors.

City crews began removing flood debris on Tuesday, starting with Ford Road and Williams Street in Ford Subdivision. All the debris is taken to the Waste Management Co. transfer station on U.S. 61 South, where it is picked up and taken by truck to its landfill in Monroe, La., city purchasing director Tim Smith said.

The city is using four trucks to carry debris to the transfer station. Debris monitors like Bolden ride on the trucks to monitor the collection and to ensure that extra debris is not added on the way to Waste Management.

Vicksburg landscape director Jeff Richardson, who is supervising the work, said city crews should complete the first round of debris removal by July 8, adding, “We’re making good time.”

He said crews are expected to go to such southern areas of Vicksburg as Cedars School Crossing next week and will make return trips to Kings and Ford Subdivision.

“We want to make sure we pick up everything we can before moving on,” he said. “The majority of the debris is in the northern part of the city. That’s not taking anything away from the south, but that’s where the numbers are.”

Richardson said he did not yet have a timetable of when all debris removal will be completed.

“We’ve found new debris piles in areas where we’ve already been,” he said. “More people are coming in and cleaning their homes.”

“I’m glad to see them pick it up,” said Arthur Jordan Jr. as he took a break from working on his home at 107 Browns Alley. “It gets rid of the majority of the stuff.”

Jordan pointed to a pile of debris belonging to his neighbor, Willie Jordan, at 95 Brown Alley.

“They didn’t pick his up because it was behind his fence,” he said. “It’s all been moved to the road.”

Richardson said the debris from Willie Jordan’s home, as well as debris from other homes that had appeared behind the crews, will be picked up when they make another pass through Kings.