Massive flooding causes havoc
Roadways that typically flood in Jones County were under water by late Thursday and early Friday.
But some that don’t typically flood — like Highway 84 East — had water flowing over them. All four lanes of the thoroughfare to east Jones County, Wayne County and Alabama were closed down around noon on Friday.
That’s because the rainfall that happened overnight was anything but typical. Some rain gauges around Sandersville showed more than 16 inches of rain in less than 24 hours.
“I’ve lived here for 57 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen water over Highway 84,” longtime Powers volunteer firefighter Lance Chancellor said as Mississippi Department of Transportation officials set up barricades and assessed what had become a waterfall off the eastbound lane in what’s known as the Bogue Homa flats, just east of Magnolia Road.
Almost 11 inches of rain was recorded at the Jones County Emergency Operations Center in Laurel. At least 159 roadways in Jones County were affected by the torrential rainfall, which started around 3 p.m. Thursday. The rainfall was so intense, there were reports of motorists being stranded with flooded cars on Jefferson Street near South Central Regional Medical Center and on Interstate 59.
A bridge washed out on Pine Grove Road, near Sandersville, and a car and pickup crashed into the concrete sections of the bridge and were partially submerged in the creek below. There was no information about their conditions, but there were reports that they were rescued by volunteer firefighters.
“It was moving quick and coming in my house by 11 last night,” Jeremy Lisle said as he and Sonya Jones and her dog Bandit waded up Shorty Ekes Road, near Township Road.
There were calls to volunteers for a water rescue on the dead-end road, Lisle said.
“The current was too strong for a canoe,” he said. “We decided it was better to stay put.”
The water receded and was out of his house in about two hours, he said, but the damage was done.
“I was just trying to buy flood insurance two days ago,” he said, “but I couldn’t get it because this isn’t listed as being in a flood zone.”
A tree fell on a bridge over Dry Creek on Highway 184, near Dixie Electric. The tree took out power lines and a structure that was washed away dammed up the fast-flowing water, causing damage to the structure of the bridge. It will likely have to be replaced, MDOT officials on the scene said.
There were also reports of water rescues on Triangle Drive and several other flooded homes, a house fire on Antioch Drive, a seven-vehicle pileup on I-59 in Laurel, flooded vehicles on 15th Avenue and a tree collapse on Old Highway 15 South that trapped five people in a house.
The home at 816 Old Highway 15 South belongs to Margaret Strickland, and three adults and two children were in the home when the tree crashed into the living room and a bedroom and trapped two of the occupants — an adult and a child. They suffered what were described as “minor injuries,” but it took about 30 minutes to extricate them from the rubble.
The call came in to emergency officials around 3:30 p.m. and volunteers from Glade, Ovett and Johnson responded. The Jones County Sheriff’s Department and emergency management officials also responded. EMServ Ambulance transported the two injured occupants to South Central Regional Medical Center.
As of press time early Friday afternoon, water remained over the following roadways, according to the EOC:
• Pine Street, Sandersville;
• Northgate Apartments near Mar-ee Drive, Laurel;
• Mason Street, Maple Street, South Magnolia Street, Ellisville Boulevard and East 24th Street, Meadowlane Drive, Teresa Street, Jefferson Street, North 15th Avenue, South 16th Avenue, Iris Drive in Laurel;
• Tuckers Crossing Road, County Home Road and Blackwell Loop in Ellisville;
• Lower Myrick Road;
• Slaughter Pen Road;
• Tallahala Cutoff Road;
• Tom Windham Road;
• Township Road;
• Orange Drive;
• Whitefield Road;
• Triangle Drive;
• Calhoun Circle;
• Indian Springs Church Road;
• Iron Gate Road;
• North Eastabuchie Road;
• Old School Houe Road;
• N WPA Road
— Dana Bumgardner of the Jones County Fire Council contributed to this report