Supervisors consider declaring emergency because of road conditions

Published 3:52 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

Warren County supervisors are considering an emergency declaration to repair county roads severely damaged by heavy rains that have hit the county over the past two weeks.

The supervisors met with county Emergency Management Director John Elfer, road manager Larry Flowers, Sheriff Martin Pace and county engineer Keith O’Keefe Friday at a special called work session to discuss the condition of county roads and problems with mudslides in various locations in the county.

An emergency declaration would allow the supervisors to bypass the state bid law and get quotes from contractors for repairs rather than go through the bid process to fix road problems.

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The rains have caused problems at several sites in the county. Flowers said several mudslides have affected the county roads. He said one slide on Old Jackson Road was expected to be cleared Friday, “But I’m not sure; if it continues to rain, it will slide again.”

He said another on Redwood Road was cleared, but crews would be back out Saturday because it slid again.

The forecast for rain, Elfer said, is another 2-3 inches starting possibly Sunday. “That’s only going to exacerbate the problem we have now,” he said.

Elfer said a preliminary survey of county roads in the northern part of the county indicated about 14-15 roads had weather-related problems. He said an assessment of the southern part of the county will start Tuesday.

“I think the list will double (after the south county assessment),” he said.

O’Keefe suggested the emergency declaration.

“Based on what I’ve seen so far,” O’Keefe said, “Some of these (roads) are going to require structural solutions, not just some backfill and asphalt, to really fix some of these problems.”

He recommended having a road assessment task force to examine the roads.

“What we need to do is focus on the ones that are a threat to the traveling public. We need to jump on some damage assessments next week and ascertain as quickly as we can what needs to be done,” he said. “Some of the things may be done by road management; some of the things may need to be bid out by contractors, so we may need to consider an emergency declaration for some of these so we can get the work done.” 

Elfer said the roads and their conditions will be put on a database and available to county officials.

He said the county’s road problems will also be put on the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s Crisis Track system, a computerized system for reporting damage from storms.

Putting them on Crisis Track will get the roads on a digital map and share the information with MEMA, he said.

“The goal is to identify what’s damaged and the extent of the damage, No. 1 for road repair, to see what needs to be blocked off, what we can travel on and what can’t be traveled on, and if we get a public assistance declaration, we’ll have that data so we won’t be chasing our tales,” Elfer said.

“We’ll know how much damage has been done and even have an estimate of the repair cost.”

Elfer said having the repair estimate is important because it will give the extent of the damage.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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