Health News

How to keep an unruly river out of your medical center

A flood wall is under construction, protecting Garden Park Medical Center from the Flat Branch in Gulfport.
A flood wall is under construction, protecting Garden Park Medical Center from the Flat Branch in Gulfport. ttisbell@sunherald.com

Garden Park Medical Center is building a wall.

At least it looks like a wall, although they aren’t officially calling it that and when it’s finished, it won’t even look like a wall either.

Most of the tall metal panels that are being pounded into the ground on the west side of the hospital grounds will eventually be covered with dirt and sod, and the remainder will be tastefully decorated, said Sherry Grady, the administrative director of ancillary services.

“There will be a lot of green, a lot of grass and flowers and trees,” she said.

And, best of all, she said, it will hold back Flat Branch Creek, which meanders through Orange Grove, goes right by Garden Park and then flows into Bernard Bayou.

“When we have a deluge of some sort, our property, because of our elevation, we tend to draw water,” she said. “When the creek goes over its banks, it comes very close to the building. We’re in a low area and all we’re doing is taking that water and pushing it on farther down into the Gulfport Lake.”

In 2016, a heavy rain flooded the parking lot and loading dock. Flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina caused millions of dollars in damage in 2005.

HCA Health Care, which owns Garden Park, studied the problem, came up with a plan and agreed to pay to fix it, she said. Hemphill Construction of Florence is building the embankment. It was engineered so it wouldn’t cause flooding on other properties and has the blessing of the Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The project started July 4 and is expected to last about 220 days, which means it should be done in mid-February — time for the spring downpours.

“Being dry in a flood is important to us,” she said, “to be able to continue to provide care to the community.”

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