County prepares for heavy rainfall

Published 7:16 am Friday, July 12, 2019

County and city officials are preparing for heavy rainfall in Pearl River County from Tropical Storm Barry from Friday night through Sunday morning.

The storm brings a one in five chance of flooding and a marginal risk for tornados in Pearl River County, said Emergency Management Director Danny Manley during a meeting with county officials and emergency personnel Thursday morning. Currently, the heaviest rain is predicated to fall in the Mississippi River, said Manley.

The earliest arrival of the storm across coastal Mississippi could be early Friday, according to the New Orleans/Baton Rouge Weather Forecast Office, while the most likely time of arrival is Friday evening. A flash flood watch is in effect for all of southern Mississippi and the rain is predicted to be heavy Friday night, all day Saturday and through Sunday, according to the New Orleans/Baton Rouge Weather Forecast Office.

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City of Picayune employees have been cleaning catch basins to ensure they drain efficiently, said Public Works Director Eric Morris. The city has also given out 454 sandbags as of midday Thursday, roughly half of the city’s stockpile of sandbags, Morris said. Sandbags will be available Friday at four satellite locations: behind Pilgrim Bound Church, on Kendrick Lane, at an empty lot on Pinewood Drive and at Mildred Mitchell Park, Morris said. The city provides sand and bags, but residents will have to bring a shovel to bag their own sand.

There were already six car accidents during the rain Wednesday night, said Picayune Chief of Police Bryan Dawsey, and more car accidents are expected to be an issue during the weekend. Dawsey advises drivers to stay off the roads if possible but if driving is necessary, he suggests motorists do so slowly. Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said vehicles driving through high water have the potential of creating a wake of water that can create flooding in businesses and homes.

American Red Cross staff are on standby and prepared to shelter and feed people if the needs arises, said American Red Cross representative Sherri Wise.

Swift water rescue crews are on standby, Manley said. The county has sandbag locations at the Nicholson Volunteer Fire Department located on Highway 11, Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Station 2 located on Liberty Road and the Poplarville Fairgrounds located on Highway 26 near the EOC building in Poplarville, said Manley.

Dr. Eddie Smith with the MSU Extension Service said a lot of rainfall in a short period of time might cause fish to die in flooded ponds. Green algae growth is typical this time of year, Smith said, but if residents see red algae growth in their ponds it is cause for concern because the red algae can kill livestock.