Officials: 'The worst is over,' minor flooding to recede

Heavy rains are expected to decrease by Tuesday morning, with South Mississippi officials sharing relief that leftover moisture from Hurricane Patricia didn't prove as dangerous as expected.

Sunday night's torrential rains flooded streets, toppled trees and signs, and pushed sand onto U.S. 90. Heavy rain was forecast for Monday night, though the National Weather Service said the chance of rain would decrease to 10 percent by Tuesday morning.

"The worst is over," Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said.

Rain gauges in northeast and northwest Harrison County collected just less than 3.5 inches of rain by mid-morning Monday. Up to 5 inches had been forecast for the coastal counties. Most areas received 1.5-inch to 2 inches.

"I don't think we will see any rivers flood," Lacy said, "but water has bottle-necked into low-lying areas so it may take a while for water levels on flooded streets to subside."

A flood watch for Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties was to expire Monday night, though officials said more rain could increase the risk of flash flooding.

Hancock County

The region's worst flooding occurred in Hancock County at Shoreline Park, Garden Isle and Jourdan River Shores in particular. Beach Boulevard was inaccessible because of rising waters and high tides early Monday.

Hancock County had received about 3 inches of rain by Monday morning, Emergency Management Director Brian Adam said.

Mike Hansen, of Lagan Street off Bayou LaCroix, was washing mud off his driveway later Monday. He said he had already rescued a neighbor's personal watercraft from the marsh.

"At 2 a.m., when I woke up, I didn't expect to see a whole yard of water," Hansen said.

Harrison County

Several streets and roads flooded across Harrison County.

The Cedar Lake Bridge, Popp's Ferry Causeway and Lorraine Road Bridge in Biloxi remained closed Monday afternoon. Howard Avenue at Cadet Street closed due to flooding, as did Bayview Avenue west of Holley Street.

Barricades will be removed as soon as waters recede, Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said.

"Our problems have been the traditional places where flooding occurs," Creel said. "It's not been an issue of water coming into houses."

Heavy sand created hazardous driving conditions along U.S. 90 until the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Harrison County Sand Beach Authority teamed up to remove sand from the highway.

Wind gusts Monday were 40 to 50 mph. The wind speed was 49 mph at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport about 6:50 a.m. Monday.

Jackson County

Flooding also was reported in areas of Jackson County, especially near beaches.

Strong winds knocked over some trees and caused a few scattered power outages, said Earl Etheridge, Jackson County Emergency Services director.

"Once this low (pressure system) gets out of Louisiana and passes over us, we're done with it," Etheridge said.

Riprap mishap

Weather-related problems included the unexpected shift of riprap (rocks stacked along the shoreline) at the Long Beach Harbor. Riprap was pushed into the parking lot.

Harbor Master Bill Ansley said there also was some "underwashing of the piers" on the southeastern edge of the harbor, but the extent of damage wasn't immediately known.

Victor Fernandez of Long Beach said he and his wife, Kathy, spent Sunday night at the harbor on their 56-foot sailboat. They were preparing to set out on a trip to South America, but lost one of their sails to high winds.

"Around 3 o'clock this morning, we were out wrestling those things," Fernandez said. "We would have been better off if we were out there (on the water)."

Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald