Rain challenges MS flood cleanup

BY HENRY BRIER | JACKSON, MS | August 18, 2001


Residents of Mississippi's capital are cleaning up following a storm that dropped about 12 inches of rain and impacted at least 150 houses last weekend, emergency officials said.

Ten counties statewide are under emergency declarations, yet the disaster merits neither a federal declaration nor federal reimbursement, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

"It's bad, but it's not as bad as it could have been," said Amy Bissell, the agency's public relations director, noting there were no reported deaths or injuries.

Florence and Richland, two suburbs southeast of the capital, endured the burden of the Sunday rains that dumped between four and 12 inches on the southern city in four hours, she said.

Heavy rains throughout the week challenged efforts to clean up the communities.

"The water is gone. It was gone mostly by Monday afternoon," Bissell said. "We're trying to clean up, but the rain makes it difficult."

Damaged goods include carpets, flooring, sheetrock, walls and personal property including food. At least 25 homes were destroyed.

Jackson's floods were the most severe result of weekend storms that cooled off a week marked by intense heat across the South.

State Emergency Management Officials in Alabama, Mississippi, West

Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia were starting to assess damage Monday

morning after as much as a foot of rain was dumped on some areas.

Some areas in Kentucky and West Virginia were still recovering from

floods that drenched the area earlier this month when the rains came

over the weekend.

In West Virginia, more flooding was reported in Putnam

County, said Bland Franklin, public information officer for the West

Virginia Office of Emergency Service. Putnam was one of the counties

that declared a state of disaster earlier this month, but was not one

of the more seriously damaged, he said.

Nine counties in eastern Kentucky had filed disaster declarations as

of Monday morning, according to Ray Bowman, public information

officer for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. Three of

those counties-Powell, Letcher and Perry-were also affected during

the last round of flooding in early August. The first floods caused

an estimated $13 million in damage and resulted in the deaths of two

people.

The small tributaries in eastern Kentucky are not able to handle large

amounts of water, Bowman said. "These streams fill up so fast, that's

where our real problem is," he said, adding flash flooding can occur

within a short amount of time. "It does a tremendous amount of

damage."

The remnants of Tropical Storm Barry caused flooding in Morgan,

Marshall and Madison counties in Alabama after heavy rains fell

Friday and Saturday, said Roger McNeil, a hydrologist with the

National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama. "As a result, they

had some pretty significant street flooding and flash flooding,"

McNeil said.

The most severe flooding in Alabama was reported in the town of Arab;

where over a foot of water was reported in some areas. Although many

roads and bridges were washed out in Marshall County, Alabama, damage

to houses was minimal, said Kyle Chandler, of the American Red Cross

office in Albertville.

-- Lara Bricker also contributed to this article


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