Flood aftermath on Coast puts rivers near record-high marks

Thursday's deluge left some Gulfport residents flooded out of their homes and prompted first responder agencies to head to the Coast to assist with rescues.

Rainfall runoff continued to flow into the Biloxi and Wolf rivers Thursday night and Friday.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy reported about 10 p.m. Thursday night the Biloxi River was at 16.1 feet, a little more than 4 feet above its flood stage.

The Wolf River was at 11 feet at the same time Thursday night, 3 feet above its flood stage.

By early Friday afternoon, the Biloxi River had peaked at 16.7, about By 4 p.m., it was down to 15.7 feet. The Wolf River peaked at 13.1 feet Friday afternoon. By 5 p.m., it was down to 12.1 feet.

At their peaks, both rivers rose to near-record highs, Lacy said.

The storm hit the Coast about 6 a.m. Thursday, dropping dime- and quarter-sized hail north and south of Interstate 10 and bringing winds up to 35 miles per hour. No tornados were reported. Heavy rain flooded low-lying areas that included dozens of streets across Gulfport and Biloxi. Weather gauges recorded more than 11 inches of rain in a five-hour stretch, with its highest concentration around Cowan-Lorraine Road and Mississippi 67 going into D'Iberville and Biloxi.

"This is a significant flood," Lacy said. "It's the highest in a couple of years. It was quick and so much rain."

The storm knocked out power to more than 8,000 residents, according to Mississippi Power Co.'s outage map. Power in Harrison and Hancock counties had been restored by Friday morning.

First responders rescued some residents in homes near Flat Branch Creek in North Gulfport and along Dedeaux Road in Orange Grove.

The Red Cross provided assistance at the Orange Grove Community Center and on County Farm Road, which were turned into makeshift shelters.

Three people stayed the night at the County Farm Road shelter. Eight decided to stay at Motel 6, Lacy said.

The Hancock County road-maintenance department closed the bridge on Cypress Drive East in the White Cypress Lakes community due to bulkhead and erosion issues from the heavy rains, Emergency Management Director Bryan Adam said. All other roads in the county are open for travel.

Lacy said he was compiling an updated list of road closures in Harrison County.

"We got a lot of water in the north part of the county," he said. "Today we're removing and repositioning barricades."

A lightning strike blew out a transformer near St. Martin Middle School in Jackson County, which caused administrators to moved the students to the high school. Power was restored later Friday morning.

The rest of Jackson County fared well throughout the storm, and didn't have any road closures, an emergency management official said.

At least 14 homes and five businesses flooded in the Orange Grove and Northwood Hills areas of Gulfport.

Following the storm's initial push, Mayor Billy Hewes declared a state of emergency in Gulfport.

The state Department of Marine Resources brought in boats to help in Gulfport, and Jackson County provided two 5-ton rescue trucks, a flat-bottom boat and five people. A swift-water team from central Mississippi came down and Gulfport police dispatched two swift-water teams. Gulfport Deputy Fire Chief Hank Levins said the Fire Department executed 20 boat rescues. He said firefighters also responded to two house fires and multiple transformer fires and gas leaks throughout the day.

Officials hope what they saw Thursday doesn't occur again Sunday.

The National Weather Service forecast a rain-free and dry day Friday, but warned they expected "widespread showers and thunderstorms on Sunday with heavy rainfall again being a concern."

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