Weather

Fast-moving flood waters creeping toward Pearlington residents

By WESLEY MULLER

wmuller@sunherald.com

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PEARLINGTON -- Residents and county officials are bracing for area flooding as the Pearl River is expected to crest Tuesday morning.

Hancock County Emergency Management Director Brian Adam said the river, which has a normal flood stage of 14 feet, rose to 19 feet Monday morning and is forecast to reach 21 feet in Pearlington as early as Tuesday and as late as Wednesday morning.

Earlier forecasts placed the timing of the crest on Monday, but the National Weather Service pushed the forecast to Tuesday, Adam said.

The flooding will extend east to Mississippi 604, affecting low lying areas of Pearlington with as much as six feet of water. The most vulnerable areas include the Oak Harbor subdivision, the Belle Isle subdivision, the Gin subdivision, the Kelly Point area, Jennes Road, Seventh Avenue, Eleventh Avenue, Whites Road and Mississippi 604, Adam said.

The weather service predicts the southwest corner of Stennis Space Center west of Mississippi 607 will flood along with portions of Interstate 10 east of Slidell.

Officials in Louisiana are expected to close I-10 near the Pearl River sometime Monday evening or Tuesday.

By early afternoon Monday, the river was rising steadily and its current was moving swiftly to the surprise of some residents in the area.

Jay Gillen, who owns a riverfront home on Levee Avenue, watched as water began to rise above his dock, which was under water by mid-afternoon. And the water was rising.

"I've been here six years, and I've never seen it like this before," Gillen said.

West Hancock Volunteer Fire Chief Kim Jones said his department is on alert and actively preparing for the flood.

At the fire station on Mississippi 604, fire crews were prepping their rescue vehicles and equipment such as the department's boats and its "high-water vehicle," a military-style cargo truck with tires about four feet high.

Jones said his crews have been filling sandbags since Sunday night and delivering them to residents who have no transportation.

Firefighters were continuing to fill sandbags to keep up with the steady stream of residents stopping by to collect them.

"We're going to be here for the long haul," firefighter Robert Sams said. "Water's supposed to be getting here tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be too bad."

Joyce Bourda, who lives on Daytona Drive North in the Belle Isle subdivision, had family members over to help line the outside of her house with sandbags. She said this could be the third time her home has flooded since 2006.

Bourda said her husband spent most of Monday taking measurements of the river height.

"It's been rising about three inches an hour," she said.

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