The Heat Is Online

Jackson Swamped By Biggest Rainfall in Its History

After the fury, real spring cleanup begins

Gov. declares emergency for areas hit hard by rain

The Clarion Ledger, April 8, 2003

Mississippians on Monday were clearing away fallen trees, mopping up flooded homes and business and keeping a wary eye on the Pearl River after one of the largest downpours in recent memory.

MSNBC reported that the seven inches of rain which fell on Monday was the heaviest rainfall in Jackson's history .

The Pearl River at Jackson, which was at 34.1 feet late Monday afternoon, was expected to crest between 34.5 feet and 35.5 feet at 1 p.m. today, according to the National Weather Service office in Jackson. Flood stage is 28 feet.

Additional rainfall, forecast to be about an inch, was expected to end around 6 a.m. today followed by a gradual clearing trend, Weather Service officials said. About 8 1/2 inches of rain fell in the tri-county area Sunday into Monday.

Storm damage around the state was so severe, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove declared a state of emergency for those areas hardest hit, including Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Lincoln, Lauderdale, Warren, Grenada and Yazoo counties.

About 980 customers primarily in north Jackson and Clinton and Rankin and Madison counties were still without power as of 10 p.m. Monday, said Entergy spokesman Robert Lesley said. Entergy is hoping to have all power restored by noon today.

In Lauderdale County, flooding closed more than 20 roads, and several area bridges were washed away from the torrential rainfall that fell Sunday and into early Monday, said Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie.

"There are a number of roads where the shoulder was washed away," he said.

Edward Boswell, who was nearly trapped in his Mississippi 19 North home by rising water overflowing from Okatibbee Creek, had to shoot a water moccasin as he fled. "He was coming straight for me," he said.

Large plate-glass windows in several businesses were blown out along Eighth Street, one of Meridian's largest traffic veins.

"They got sucked out when the barometric pressure changed," said Meridian police spokesman Deano Harper.

A possible tornado caused extensive damage in the Loyd Star community north of Brookhaven in Lincoln County.

Robert Latham, executive director of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said numerous mobile homes were damaged, with as many as five being overturned.

Lincoln County Civil Defense spokeswoman Cindy Galey said damage assessment teams were on the scene Monday, inspecting homes and farms in the northwestern part of the county from I-55 west to the Jefferson County line.

Flash flooding in the Jackson metro area drove some residents from their homes and apartments Sunday. Many of the evacuations came Sunday night while others, like Rex Thompson of The Oaks apartment complex on Ridgewood Road, woke up in the wee hours of the morning to an apartment knee-deep in water.

Musgrove paid a visit to The Oaks apartment complex and Chatham Village, also on Ridgewood Road, at noon Monday, surveying damage.

Both complexes were flooded with about 3 feet of water from Hanging Moss Creek, which runs between The Oaks and Jackson Academy.

Portions of Jackson's Parham Bridges park, including the new playground area and areas around the walking trail, were mired in slimy mud.

Nearly 50 intersections in Jackson were barricaded Monday due to flash flooding.

In Rankin County, all road crews were dispatched to the northwest portion of the county. Hardest hit were those living in the area in and around Castlewoods subdivision.

At the height of Sunday's storm, 3 feet of water was recorded at the intersection of Castlewood Boulevard and Bradford Drive, said District 2 Supervisor Larry Swales.

"(My district) got beat up pretty bad," Swales said.

In Madison County, about16 homes were damaged by flood water. "To the homeowners, it was pretty bad, but it was not 3 to 4 feet deep," said Madison Fire Chief Tom Laribieri. "A number of homes had tree damage, three with very significant damage with trees into the roof and that type of thing ... but all the homes were reparable."

Significant wind and hail damage was also reported in Annandale, west of Madison.

Members of the Ridgeland Fire Department evacuated about 20 residents of Terry Cabins and Jones Cabins, small one- and two-bedroom cabins near the Ross Barnett Reservoir, after an estimated 10 inches of rain fell in about 18 hours, said Ridgeland Fire Chief Matthew Bailey.

"We went in by boat, but probably half of them stayed in there. They just didn't want to leave. We made sure they were in a safe place," he said.

Staff writers Peggy Matthews and Thyrie Bland, correspondent Marianne Todd and The Associated Press contributed to this report.