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Local leaders approve emergency resolutions for storm damage

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen at separate, special-called meetings Monday passed two emergency resolutions involving potential damage from last week’s severe winter weather clearing the way for assistance with possible repairs to the city’s water system and post-winter storm cleanup.

Two winter storms hit Vicksburg between Feb. 15 and 20. The first dropped up to 4 inches of freezing rain, snow and sleet covering homes and streets. The second added one-quarter inch of freezing rain and sleet. Temperatures during the entire period remained below freezing.

The combination of cold temperatures and ice caused power outages and affected the city’s water system as panicked users overwhelmed the system and leaks in city lines and commercial buildings dropped water pressure.

Approved at a noon special meeting, the first resolution was an emergency declaration because of the loss of electricity and water service in the city from Feb. 15-23, which may make the city eligible for disaster assistance from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We went ahead and approved it so if the governor declares a (statewide) disaster we’ve taken action so we can bypass the requirements (for filing requests),” Flaggs said. He said city grants coordinator Nancy Allen is preparing the paperwork for the assistance and will serve as the city’s agent for reimbursement.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors took a similar step Monday, approving an emergency declaration ahead of what they hope would be state and maybe federal declarations.

The second resolution approved at a 3:15 p.m. special meeting declared an emergency for repairs to the city’s water system and other utilities affected by the cold.

“This is so if we need to make any repairs to the water plant or any waterlines we can get that done without bidding it out,” City Attorney Nancy Thomas said.

The state bid laws allow cities and counties to declare emergencies in certain situations where essential repairs are needed immediately to infrastructure so contractors may be hired for repairs without having to go through the bid process, which may take a month or more before work can be performed.

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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