Biloxi River level down, but more rain expected

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDAn early morning jogger goes under a stream of lights on a foggy Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDAn early morning jogger goes under a stream of lights on a foggy Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. SUN HERALD

The day after a deadly storm system tore through parts of north Mississippi, rain continues to fall along the Coast.

Seven people, including a 7-year-old boy, were killed Wednesday after a large tornado touched down near Clarksdale and other areas were hit by severe storms, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Four deaths occurred in Benton County, two each occurred in Marshall County and one person died in Tippah County. Also, the whereabouts of a missing person in Benton County remained unknown Thursday afternoon.

MEMA reported the storms damaged houses, mobile homes and public buildings and numerous roads were closed because of debris in some of the hardest hit areas, which includes seven counties.

Harrison County Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy on Thursday said the Biloxi River's level had dropped slightly.

"It has gone down to 13.3 feet, which is still above flood level," Lacy said. "Hopefully, it will get back to normal by Friday morning, but the rain is still coming down."

The Biloxi River had reached 14.1 feet Wednesday afternoon. The river's flood stage is 12 feet.

In Jackson County, Emergency Manager Earl Etheridge said he had reports of flooded streets on Wednesday.

"We had some streets that flooded in Pascagoula, Moss Point and Gautier but they had all gone down by about noon," he said. "We did not have any damage reported."

Gov. Phil Bryant declared the area a state of emergency Thursday in seven counties -- Benton, Marshall, Coahoma, Panola, Prentiss, Tippah and Quitman.

South Mississippi Red Cross Executive Director John McFarland said Thursday the chapter will be assisting the people of north Mississippi.

"We have already sent some workers," he said. "I'm sure we'll send more as the day goes on."

Lacy said no storm-related incidents were reported on the Coast.

"We didn't receive any calls regarding the bad weather on Wednesday," he said. "Hopefully, we can salvage our Christmas."

The National Weather Service indicated rain and thunderstorms are likely to continue into early next week with a potential for severe weather again on Sunday.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is urging motorist to drive with extra caution over the holidays, with fog expected to decrease visibility at times and rain slick roads between periods of rain.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, five cars had hydroplaned on Interstate 10 and got stuck in the median, the MHP reported.

Robin Fitzgerald, Sun Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.

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