Picayune experiences flooding

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More than 10 inches of rain fell in Picayune last night, and about six and a half inches fell in Poplarville, which caused residential and some commercial flooding in the south end of Pearl River County.

Residential and commercial flooding took place mostly in Picayune. The north end of the county did not have any homes flood, said Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Bobby Strahan.

Structures from homes to two fire stations in Picayune did flood with inches of water. Fire Chief Keith Brown said Stations 1 and 2 both had flooding. Deputy Fire Chief John Mark Mitchell said about six inches of water came into Station 1. Brown said water also flooded Station 2 on Mitchell Street.

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Woodglen Cove resident Jeff Hensiek, who lives close to Fire Station 2, had about an inch of water in his home. He said a number of other homes on the street that also had flooding.

“It was deep enough to paddle a canoe up and down the street,” Hensiek said. “I thought my FEMA trailer was going to float off.”

A check of his overflowing rain gauge showed his home experienced more than 10 inches of rain.

Emergency departments in the city had to deal with a number of issues as a result of the flooding. The police department worked a few wrecks, blockaded roads to protect homes and businesses, and waded waist deep in flood waters to assist trapped motorists.

Deputy Chief David Ervin said while officers were assisting a family trapped in their car in the Interstate 59 median, they witnessed another car leave the roadway and flip upside down into the water of the same median. They then turned their attention to that car where they pulled out a child and the parents from the submerged upside-down vehicle.

Numerous motorists also were trapped in their vehicles as they became stranded in flood-water, Ervin said. Officers had to wade in the water to assist those motorists.

“The officer said it was up to his waist,” Ervin said.

The Poplarville Police Department did not have any problems to report.

The Picayune Junior High rain gauge indicated Picayune received 11.72 inches of rain between the hours of midnight Sunday to 4 a.m. Oct. 23. The South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station reported about 6.6 inches of rain Tuesday morning in the Poplarville area.

Hancock county resident Gwen Conlee said she was driving in the city at the time of the storm that caused the flooding and witnessed water covering the intersection of Memorial Boulevard and U.S. 11 at about 6:45 p.m.

“If I’d of opened the door, water would have come in the (car),” Conlee said.

Picayune resident Steve Ellis said he drove through flooding on Bruce Street and Jackson Landing and in the Ponderosa Subdivision.

“That’s my first time seeing that,” Ellis said.

While his house did not flood, there were numerous streets in his neighborhood covered in water, including Victoria, Laura and Shirley Drives.

City Manager Ed Pinero said the flooding the city experienced was not a drainage problem, rather it was a water accumulation problem. County-wide efforts to improve drainage will take place, but once the water sheds in the county fill up, no amount of drainage can get rid of the water.

“Once the creeks get full there is no place for the water to go,” Pinero said.

Quite a bit of the water that built up around Telly Road and the Picayune Funeral Home had red mud mixed in, apparently from Grand Oaks Apartments. Pinero said the new development does not have their detention ponds functioning. Those won’t be finished until the concrete work is complete, he said.

Picayune Funeral Home owner Henrieta Brown had her yard full of red tinged water. Her business is located next door to the new apartment building.

Picayune’s Flood Plain manager Tammy Campbell, Pinero, council member Larry Watkins, Brown, Strahan and a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency representative were touring the city Tuesday morning to assess the flooding damage to homes and businesses in the city.

Campbell said she estimates more than 30 homes experienced flooding, along with an unknown number of businesses.

“We’ll be working on that for the next couple of days,” Campbell said.

Twenty-five homes have to be damaged due to flooding to get the Small Business Association in to the city to get funding needed to address the problem, Strahan said.

A list of streets that reported residential flooding include, Rosa, South and North Beech, Main, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Cooper Road, Miss. 43 north and south, U.S. 11, Telly Road, Interstate 59 South, Woodglen Cove, Weems, Jarrell, Memorial Boulevard, Glenwood, Kingsway Boulevard and Brookdale Avenue.