CANTON — A packed house filled City Hall here Tuesday night for a public forum to discuss major flooding issues the city continues to experience.

The city’s elected officials were joined by District 4 Supervisor David Bishop, District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin and a host of other officials, including a representative from Congressman Bennie Thompson’s office for the meeting that lasted over two hours. 

One by one, residents voiced their displeasure over the issues they say didn’t appear overnight and haven’t been addressed for years. 

One woman said when she had flooding issues a couple of years ago, the city came out and scraped her ditch. 

“Where’d the put the dirt,” she said rhetorically. “They left it in the ditch. Everybody knows what mud does when it dries. Personally, I’m prepared to sue if water gets in my house.”

Several residents said they don’t live in flood zones but constantly have to worry about flooding. 

One woman who lives on Collins Street said she complained about a stopped-up culvert at her house but was told since she lived in the middle of the street the city couldn’t do anything because other people would complain. 

A woman living at 220 South West St. said she lost everything to floodwaters and nobody helped her afterward. 

Others said they can’t even flush their toilets when it rains. 

Others complained that the garbage truck doesn’t pick up the trash on time so people just throw couches and other large items in ditches to get rid of them. 

“That’s the reason the garbage is being put in the ditches,” she said. “You set it out and the people don’t come pick it up.”

Mayor Dr. William Truly admitted the city had “dropped the ball” when it comes to addressing flooding issues in the past, but he said they were committed to working on a long-range plan to provide solutions. 

He told the audience that the first step would be to actually develop the plan to address the issues. 

“What would be (step one) — identification of what it is we can do,” he said. “For example, we can clean out Bachelor Creek. It actually obstructs the flow of water. That’s manmade, something the city can do.”

He said there was a lot of blockage for a lot of reasons. He said some city drains were small and retention ponds need to be built in some areas. 

“That’s where we bring our engineers in,” he said. “That’s where we estimate costs.”

Supervisor Griffin said the city and county both have tight budgets and that’s what they have to work with. He said in his experience it boils down to money and personnel. He said it’s important that the city personnel are doing the best they can. 

Supervisor Bishop said it they aren’t dealing with a single-process problem, but drainage is a major issue. He said instead of cleaning out an entire culvert, just the front of a culvert has been cleaned. 

“We failed some things,” he said. “We have not been proactive in this process.”

He said during the dry season crews should be cleaning out ditches and culverts so that when it rains they aren’t putting out as many “fires.”

As it is now, Bishop said “they’re all clogged up, they’re all hot spots.”

One woman suggested the county should be doing more to help the citizens of Canton. 

“Nobody wants handouts,” she said. “The people that have invested in this city want a fair deal. They don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and have to get out of their house in a boat.

“The bottom line is money talks,” she continued. “Canton is a poor city. We do not have the clout with our county that we need to have. If you look back in history on Madison County, the cities of Ridgeland and Madison were built on the backs of the citizens of Canton. The value of the real estate in the City of Canton floated the bond issues and nothing is coming back to the City of Canton.”

Truly said he has spoken with Congressman Thompson and he is committed to helping, but he is waiting for the city to develop a plan.

“Today is the beginning of our plan,” he said. 

Tchia’Kousky L. Williams, a former candidate for Canton alderman, called Tuesday night’s meeting “the biggest political stunt” he had ever seen in a comment on the city’s Facebook page. 

“Half the people on the board have been serving in city government for over two decades and now they want to get serious about the flooding issues,” he wrote. “Canton citizens please wake up, because they know the elections are next year and their shooing their shot before it starts. This should’ve been the first thing the board addressed when they got in office in 2017.”