Chronic flooding in Belhaven area has several causes

By FOUNTAIN BARKSDALE,

These comments are provided in response to the article titled “Lindsay targets city's flooding problems” in the July 20, 2017 edition of the Northside Sun.

In 1937 my parents purchased their first home which was located at 1517 St. Mary Street. At that time St. Mary Street was not paved. My parents raised their three children in this home, continuing to own it until about 1975. I was their third child and was born in 1950. Belhaven Creek, which touched the back corner of our lot, was a favorite place to play while I was growing up.

During the time my family owned this home there was never any serious flooding concerns. When heavy rains occurred, kids would often congregate on the bridge at St. Mary Street and throw sticks into the roaring water, only to watch them disappear under the bridge. Never do I recall the water spilling over into the street. The most significant flooding event I recall occurred in the very early 1960s when the area now known as Laurel Street Park was completely flooded, but even then no houses flooded.

So what has happened to cause all of the flooding that has occurred in the intervening years? One only needs to look at changes that have occurred in the Belhaven Creek drainage basin for the answers.

Looking upstream from St. Mary Street several significant changes have occurred since the 1960s and 1970s. First, the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus has been significantly developed. Second, Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium was built and over time virtually all of the green space around it has been converted to a paved parking lot.

 

Third, the lake on the campus of Belhaven University has been filled in, with only a very small retention pond remaining, thus depriving the neighborhood of a critical rainwater storage facility. And fourth, much commercial development has occurred along Riverside Drive - south of Bailey Jr. High School and also east of Murrah Drive. It appears that an inadequate amount of, if any, stormwater retention facilities were required for any of this development. All of these changes have resulted in a significantly increased flow of water thru the creek, which it was not designed to handle.

Looking downstream from St. Mary Street a different issue contributes to the flooding experienced recently - neglect. This begins where Piedmont Street dead ends into the creek. At that point the creek is no longer concrete lined, but has a natural creek bank. When I lived in Belhaven the City of Jackson periodically removed the accumulated debris along a several hundred yard stretch of the creek in this area, but apparently discontinued that practice some time ago.

Belhaven continues to be a vibrant neighborhood. The City of Jackson needs to protect this important part of its tax base by determining and implementing a comprehensive solution to this nagging problem of flooding.

 

Fountain Barksdale

212 D’Evereaux Court

Madison MS 39110

bankerhunter@comcast.net

601-278-1875

July 20, 2017

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