/Flooding, bridge closure leave some in Delta community stuck and walled off

Flooding, bridge closure leave some in Delta community stuck and walled off

A retired school teacher, Stephanie Park, aged 71, said that she cannot travel more than half a kilometre from her home in Winterville, which is a small rural community eight miles north-east of Greenville. The bridge that federal inspectors deemed unsafe was closed six weeks ago and is located to the west of her home on Winterville Priscilla Road. Half a mile further east is the flood plain from Deer Creek. This has been happening since February. Park stated that “my main concern is that I am in my 70s and that my son inherited extremely, very high blood pressure.” Park stated that while it is one thing to stay in your home because you like it, it is another to do it because it is the only option. He said that there are eight other households along the stretch of the closed bridge and flooding. One farmer lives on his land, which is under water. Carl McGee, President of the Washington County Board of Supervisors said that there has been a lot of rain over the past few weeks. “All things are at capacity, all drainage tributaries,” said Carl McGee, President of Washington County Board of Supervisors. Deer Creek is a distributary of Lake Bolivar (which flows from its source), which is seven miles north-east of Winterville. This year’s heavy rains caused flooding in the Delta. A school bus carrying its last drop-off was forced to leave the road by strong winds on Thursday and drive into the water. Park’s son Marlowe found the bus while on his way home from work. He waited with one student and the driver until the sheriff arrived. Park had just returned from working in a museum when she realized that her Mercury Marquis couldn’t get her home safely through the flood waters. McGee called instead, and drove Park through the flood in his pickup truck. Park stated that she has only been able leave the area once since Friday, when the water level dropped slightly. Marlowe owns a Ford F-250 but isn’t willing to drive through the rising water. Park said that flooding would not be an issue if there was a bridge open. Park stated that the route she takes to get to the post office from Winterville Priscilla is now 34 miles round trip, compared with the three-miles it was before the bridge was closed. McGee said that it was in the public’s best interest to keep the bridge open. McGee said, “Is it inconvenient?” McGee stated that while it is inconvenient, he would rather have the conversation than one after a tragedy. “When it comes down to the safety of the traveling public (either school buses or pedestrians), we have to ensure that we can guarantee their safety on public roads.” According to the Office of State Aid Road Construction in Washington County, there are 29 closed bridges. This is one of the highest numbers in the state. McGee stated that the county is unable to pay for the repairs. McGee said that when you have such issues and unfunded mandates for closing bridges, it puts extreme pressure on our revenue streams. He was referring to Gov. Phil Bryant made a declaration last year to close all bridges in the state. It would be great if they stated, “Close these bridges, and here’s the revenue for the repairs. This is what we’re doing to increase revenue to support infrastructure in Mississippi. Click here to view the complete list of bridges MDOT has declared need immediate closure.