At first light it was a bit of a mess in Jackson County after Hurricane Nate kept people up past midnight with strong winds and heavy rain.
Downed trees blocking Old River Road and Poticaw Bayou Road in Vancleave were removed shortly after dawn.
Electric company crews were restoring power and working to get traffic lights operational.
“We ask that people give power and road crews space to work and time to do their jobs and get the roads cleared and power restored,” Jackson County Emergency Services Director Earl Etheridge said Sunday morning. Jackson County bore the brunt of Nate’s winds and storm surge. “The water’s staring to go down, and we’re doing our damage assessments now.”
Etheridge said that while the county is starting its damage assessment, the county’s four cities are doing their own.
The 305 people who stayed in the emergency shelters in Jackson County overnight have gone home and the curfew was lifted, he said.
During the interview with the Sun Herald a report was called into the Emergency Operations Center that the Lake Mars pier at Gulf Park Estates washed away during Nate. He said these calls will continue to come in all day.
He also reported:
▪ 25 houses had some damage, mostly minor.
▪ 20 roads throughout the county are damaged, one seriously. The Bellfontaine Beach Road in St. Andrew is closed. “Washed out,” he said.
▪ The river and flood gauges in Pascagoula topped out 7.6 feet of storm surge.
▪ Unofficially the surge was 10 feet at Fort Bayou. Etheridge said, “We feel confident that we probably had 11-12 feet at least at Gulf Park Estates, St. Andrews area.”
▪ Just over 4 inches of rain fell in Paascagoula.
▪ The highest wind gust was 62 mph in Pascagoula and he believes it was higher in Ocean Springs.
At one point during the storm, Singing River Electric had 16,000 customers without power in the county.
Ethridge has been in emergency operations for many years and said, “I think we dodged a bullet. The storm fell apart just at the mouth of the Mississippi River.”
He was interviewed three times during the night by Jim Cantore for The Weather Channel. He slept for about an hour overnight in a chair at the EOC, which lost power shortly after midnight, and was still running on emergency generator at 9 a.m.
While he worked, Nate did damage to his house.
“I found my fence,” he said. “I’ve got to go find my porch.”
Nate’s storm surge of a little more than 6 feet on Saturday night left a line of debris on the beach and lawns near the water and a gusty breeze still blows off the water.
“There shouldn’t be any more storm surge problems today,” Etheridge said. “We’ve already seen a dramatic decrease in the water levels,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of the tide relaxing and going back to normal.”
Officials with the city of Pascagoula announced that Beach Boulevard is closed until cleanup efforts are finished and damages can be assessed.