Dozens of fans braved waves of rain at Point Park on Thursday morning and are still waiting to wave goodbye to the John P. Murtha, LPD 26, completed recently by Ingalls Shipbuilding and on its way to the East Coast for commissioning.
While many stayed in their cars in the parking lot waiting for word the ship would actually depart around 9:30 a.m., Beth Willis stood half in and half out of her car watching her daughter and granddaughter standing on the east bank of the Pascagoula River.
Willis is a legacy fan of shipbuilding. Her grandfather worked at Ingalls and she counts herself as patriotic because she and her family have cheered as other ships have left the yard.
On Thursday, Ingalls employee Amy Rowell handed out American flags to the drenched onlookers waiting for the Murtha’s departure.
“We’re patriotic,” Willis said.
The Murtha was scheduled to leave at 9 a.m. on its way to a commissioning in the fall. It will be homeported in California.
Some waiting in the rain had loved ones in the Navy aboard the ship and others had friends who worked on the ship at Ingalls.
Elsewhere in town, streets were flooding temporarily as the weather dumped 3 inches of rain since midnight Wednesday.
“Streets fill up, the rain goes away and streets go down,” said Earl Etheridge, director of county emergency management.
The scenario was playing out in Pascagoula and police with their lights on could be seen on some major thoroughfares warning motorists to slow down.
In Ocean Springs, the Public Works Department was ahead of the game, working this week to clear ditches and drainways, said director Johnny Groue.
On Thursday, the department wrestled with a collapsed drain pipe off Reilly Road in the east part of the city, hoping that once that was cleared, the area would drain better, Groue said.
In Moss Point north of Interstate 10, areas that suffered river flooding earlier this year were relatively clear.
Danny Patrick, who lives several blocks north of the interstate off Mississippi 613, had added sandbags to his home, however. His home experiences frequent flooding because of poor street draining.
“I’ve added 60 sand bags to the 40 that I keep around the house,” he said. “I keep some year-round. And every now and then, I have to replace them.”