City of Vicksburg to get Natural Resources Conservation Services grant for erosion work

Published 5:51 pm Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen is expected to receive a Natural Resources Conservation Services grant exceeding $550,000 to repair four severely eroded areas in the city caused by heavy rains in 2020.

City grants administrator Nancy Allen said the total amount of the grant is $560,571.65 with NRCS contributing $430,206.15 and the city providing a $130,365.50 match.

“We haven’t got the grant agreement yet,” Allen said, adding the board July 23 approved an application for federal assistance and other agreements involving the money. “That’s just the preliminary paperwork. They will be assisting us.”

The board in April approved a contract not to exceed $84,488 with Stantec to engineer and design repairs to four severe erosion problems caused by heavy rains in 2020.

Under the contract, Stantec is responsible for designing remedies to problems caused by erosion on Second North Street; an erosion and slide area along a drainage ditch behind homes along Columbia Street; a washout area at Halls Ferry Road and Lane Street; and erosion on Polk Street near a house.

At the time Stantec was hired, City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the sites were approved by the NRCS as eligible sites for emergency watershed protection.

The problems were initially caused during the two periods of heavy rain that hit Warren County in January and April 2020 causing severe damage in the city and county.

The board April 5 authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to send a letter to the NRCS asking for help with the four projects because the city, according to the letter, either exhausted or had insufficient funds “or (no) other resources available to provide adequate relief from applicable hazards.”

In a related matter, Allen said five erosion projects approved for emergency funds by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in the design phase.

The board on April 12 approved two contracts with Waggoner Engineering/AJA Engineers totaling $150,290 for engineering to repair four areas damaged by erosion from heavy rains occurring in January and April 2020.

The board approved a contract not to exceed $7,515 with WEI/AJA Engineers to perform the engineering and design to repair an erosion problem involving a drainage culvert on Crestline Drive.

Also approved was a contract with WEI/AJA not to exceed $142,775 for engineering and design projects involving erosion threatening Crestline Drive, James E. Stirgus Sr. Street and Greenhill Drive. Both streets are threatened by severe erosion caused by the 2020 rains.

On April 29, the board approved a contract not to exceed $99,688 with Stantec for engineering repairs to slide areas at Riverfront Park.

Heavy rains in January and April 2020 were responsible for four slides in the park — two along the riverbank and two other slides covering portions of the park road at two locations. The slides forced the city in April 2020 to close its most-used park.

On May 10, the board approved a request from Stantec to hire Ridgeland-based engineers Burns Cooley Dennis as a subcontractor for repairs to erosion areas at Riverfront Park.

City Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said at the time Burns Cooley Dennis, which has experience in geotechnical engineering, will take soil borings at the park “and help with the design of what they (Stantec) do to fix it.”

The cost to repair the slides is estimated at $664,585 and the work has been approved for emergency grants from FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

The FEMA grant is a reimbursement grant covering 75 percent of the project’s eligible costs, which means the city will pay for the repairs and be reimbursed by FEMA. The city’s match is 25 percent, which will be split between MEMA, the city and Warren County.

The city and the county have an agreement to share repair and maintenance costs for the park. 

The board in March approved borrowing up to $4 million to begin repairs to the problems at Riverfront Park and other slide areas damaged during the severe rains. The loan will be repaid using the FEMA reimbursements.

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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