Residents pack up, head for higher ground ahead of flood

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2016

Flooding from the Mississippi is a headline for most to read, but for those who are experiencing the water creeping up in their yards and eventually making its way into the crooks and crannies of their homes, the news is personal.

On Wednesday, Kings community resident Frank Johnson decided the time had come for him to pack his belongings and head to higher ground.

“God’s in charge,” Johnson said.

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Johnson is storing his belongings in a storage unit and will secure a place of his own in town for the time being. He said most of his neighbors left the subdivision after the flood in 2011, but he will definitely be coming back to his home once the waters recede.

“This is home, and this is a nice place,” Johnson said.

He said he does have regular flood insurance on his home and that helps out a little.

”It don’t do nothing for the nerves,” Johnson said.

As of Wednesday, power had not been shut off yet, but Johnson said he would call to do it himself soon. He doesn’t know if the water will reach his home since the crest level has dropped, but he is taking all the precautions just in case.

Other residents in the area weren’t as concerned about the flood. Eugene Ross, Gerald Maxey, Claude Blue and Felix Younger Jr. were all sitting outside Ross’ home and Younger’s trailer Wednesday afternoon as Younger worked on a generator. Maxey was going to use the generator once his power got shut off.

“Once the water takes the road they normally turn it off,” Maxey said.

They said the water was high in 2011, but they thought this time the flood wouldn’t reach their homes.

“I don’t think it’s suppose to get that high this time,” Ross said. “I don’t think it’s going to get to this point over here.”

They hadn’t planned where to go if the water gets higher than they anticipated. In 2011, they stayed at Hawkins United Methodist Church.

“Hopefully they would do it again if it comes to that,” Blue said.

Younger said in 2011 the water came up the windows of his trailer, and when he turns 62 this year he is going to take his trailer and leave the area.

“I don’t care where I go,” Younger said. “I’m too old to be moving in and out.”

Ross and Maxey said insurance companies do offer high-risk flood insurance to the area, but the cost is so high they couldn’t afford it for their homes.

Vicksburg insurance agent Susan Johnston said a homeowner’s policy does not include flood insurance, and for those who are interested in purchasing protection for their home the policy must be bought from FEMA. However, the condition of the house will be a factor as to whether a home qualifies.

In the past, Johnston said, the government subsidized flood rates and helped with the premiums, but after 2011 things changed and now premiums are higher due to reforms that were made.

“If you live in a high hazard area,” Johnston said, the first step a homeowner must do is to get an elevation certificate. No flood insurance quote will be offered without it, she said, and unfortunately there are areas in Vicksburg that the city has deem ineligible for insurance.

John Jones and David Kelly were frustrated and felt dumped on while trying to figure out what to do during the flood. They wished the city would help them out. Jones said he was particularly mad that he has to pay taxes to the city but he doesn’t receive the benefits of it like people uptown.

“There’s your story right there,” Jones said.

During the 2011 flood, Jones said he was in University of Mississippi Medical Center having surgery. Wednesday the water was already starting to get into Jones’ backyard of the home he has lived in for 53 years, and the electricity had already been shut off. He said at 52 feet the water would probably reach a little below knee height in his home. He didn’t know what to do or where to go, and he challenged the community to work on social change.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Jones said. “I’ll do whatever I have to do.”

Kelly said his health has failed him in the recent years so he moved in with family in the Ford community two months ago. Now he is looking for a new place to go.

“I left everything, and now I have to start all over again,” Kelly said.

He was also concerned about some puppies he didn’t think had anywhere to go. Kelly said deer, snakes and alligators come on the property when the floodwaters start to get high.

“We need emergency assistance now,” Kelly said. “We haven’t seen anyone. No kind of response team, anything, to come through to help us in no kind of way.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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