Flooding plagues Rankin and Simpson counties - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Flooding plagues Rankin and Simpson counties

PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

While many keep watch over the rising Pearl River, officials in Rankin and Simpson counties know not to underestimate area creeks either.

Monday's floodwaters in Pearl mean long hours for the city's fire department.  

"We'll probably be here all night," Lt. Bryan Hill said.  

It started Sunday night, with rain-swollen Richland Creek causing storm drains to back up and spill onto yards and roads. Public works crews used concrete pipes and sandbags to stop the water from flowing back up, but that only worked in some of the locations.  

"We've been here since 7 this morning, and we've got it to stop rising now," Hill said. "We're finally getting it to fall."  

They're doing that with three pumps, sending that water over a nearby levee that protects residents who live on Deeb Street and Richland Avenue. The levee also ensures that Richland Creek flooding will stay within the watershed.  

Still, with storm drains backed up, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water continue to pour out.  

"We're putting out 24,000 gallons an hour just out of the fire truck," Hill said.  

That kind of thing doesn't work for flooding along a portion of Highway 49 in Simpson County.   The section of submerged four-lane extends for more than a half-mile between Braxton and Mendenhall.  

"This creek, it generally doesn't get this high," Simpson County Emergency Operations Manager Glen Jennings said. "It did it in roughly 1979, so it's been quite a while."  

The water coming over the highway from Dabbs Creek is more than two feet deep in some places, Jennings said, and moving swiftly.  

"This current will move a vehicle very quick, and of course, that's why we shut 49 down, had MDOT shut it down," Jennings said.  

And unlike the pumps going full-blast in Pearl, there's nothing to do but wait for the highway to clear.  

"The Strong River will not crest until Tuesday, so we still have some more flooding to go," Jennings said.  

The situation will only worsen, he adds, if the area receives significant rainfall within the next 24 hours.  

Back in Pearl, they're playing their own waiting game.  

"We've got two trucks and the fire truck going here, so I think we're gonna stay ahead of it," Hill said.  

The Pearl Fire Department managed to keep the water from getting high enough to go inside people's homes, but dozens of yards were completely flooded.  

Meanwhile, it could be days before the water clears from Highway 49. Once it does, the Mississippi Department of Transportation will have to inspect the roadway to see if the rushing water caused any permanent erosion damage.

Copyright 2014 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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