SURRATT: C’mon Benny, throw your political weight behind the pumps

Published 4:00 am Friday, June 3, 2022

At the risk of being blamed for some disaster in the future, I’m going to talk about an event of nature.

I say that because journalists sometimes write articles and columns about the lack of certain events occurring in their communities that eventually come back to haunt them. For example, when I worked on the Coast, a co-worker wrote an article about a significant drop in auto burglaries. A week later, the city was hit with a series of car break-ins. When I was in Meridian, I wrote an article that the city passed through the first six months of the year without a homicide. Two days later, the city had three.

So I write this with fear of eventual contradiction — we, so far this year, have gone without a severe flood.

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Yes, the water has been high and I’m sure there are some people in the lower-lying areas of Warren County that may be underwater and who will argue, but it hasn’t threatened Kings and Waltersville or blocked Highway 465 this year.

I came here 11 years ago during the 2011 flood, which topped the height of the 1927 flood. Since then, it seemed like — with some exceptions — we had a major flood each year after.

Covering the floods has been an education, not just in learning about various areas of the county, but in the vocabulary and procedure involved in working floods. I’ve learned weather terms and the names of steps taken to handle problems during flood fights. And one mantra from the 2019 flood, “install the pumps.”

The Yazoo Backwater Pumps project is something that needs to be completed and should have bipartisan support in both houses of Congress because it can save lives and property. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t have it. The majority of our congressional delegation supports it, although I question Rep. Benny Thompson’s support for the project. Benny seems lukewarm, even reticent on the project, which should easily fit the criteria of environmental justice.

I looked up the term on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. It said: “Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:

• The same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and

• Equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

Of course, that “same degree of protection” may only refer to areas “where the votes are” and ignores the plight of Delta residents and farmers — black and white — who have to live in fear each year that their homes and livelihoods. Unlike some of our elected representatives, I know — thanks to Katrina — what it’s like to have high water in your house.

Benny, you’re a senior congressman, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a member of the Congressional Rural Caucus. Use your seniority, your seat as chairman and your position on the caucus to get the EPA to approve the pumps and push to get them installed.

You owe it to your constituents.

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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