By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Residents and businesses along flood-prone Ida Street welcomed news Wednesday of a potential fix to their standing drainage woes.
The City Council this week agreed to pursue funding for an estimated $520,000 drainage upgrade in the mostly low-income neighborhood. It would alleviate years of problems from an inadequate storm water system.
“I’ve lived here since 1985, and it happens every time it rains,” said Bobby Lee Stubbs, who owns a home on the corner of Ida and Enoch streets. “It comes up into our yard and all the way up to our patio sometimes.”
A drainage ditch runs immediately behind Stubbs’ one-story house. It often overflows, and when it does, it sends a cascade of water and trash into the family’s backyard.
Similar problems plague Joe Moore, who rents a duplex one block east, on the corner of Ida and Tedford streets. He has seen standing water mixed with trash during heavy rainfalls but said it’s been more than a year since that happened.
Still, he supports the city’s plans to upgrade the drainage system.
Public support is a critical factor in the city’s bid for a Community Development Block Grant, said Tupelo grant administrator Terri Blissard, who encourages residents and businesses to speak up in favor of the project.
The Mississippi Development Authority, which is the funding agency, “wants to hear from ordinary people in their own voices,” Blissard said. “MDA wants to hear that affected residents and businesses support the project, and if those individuals have their own stories about the difficulties they’ve encountered due to poor drainage, then MDA would like to hear about that as well.”
A public hearing on the matter will be held at 10 a.m., May 4, at City Hall.
MDA could name grant recipients as early as November. If Tupelo wins, work likely would start sometime next spring. The grant would cover half the project cost.
On Wednesday, water pooled in several spots along Ida Street in the wake of a two-day rain that ended late Tuesday. It had no place to drain.
Some accumulated at the entrances to several Azalea Gardens apartment buildings. Manager Sandra Simmons said it hasn’t affected her business as greatly as it has others in the area.
But she worries that one day it will.
“I absolutely support the project,” she said. “This area needs help.”