Plants dying in Biloxi due to dry spell

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They are casualties of the searing heat and 17 days of no rain.  The dry spell is just too much for the flowers in downtown Biloxi to bear. So the lifeless plants are being pulled up to make room for new ones.

"Vieux Marche is really being hit hard, because you got the pavement down there.  The heat is hitting the pavement and the flowers are by the pavement," said Biloxi Beautification Supervisor Tommy Searight.

Just last week, the city spent $6,800 to plant Periwinkles throughout the city.  Already, more than 250 plants have died. This week, Biloxi's Beautification crews are replacing the dead flowers with a fresh batch, and employees are starting their work day a little earlier.

"It helps us with the heat. But with the watering, it's better to water plants earlier in the morning or late at night instead of in the middle of the day anyway," said Kim Warren, a Biloxi Beautification Department employee.

"It was using two tanks, now we're using about four tanks of water a day," said Searight.

Over the weekend, three employees had to work overtime to keep the thirsty plants saturated.  Sprinkler systems are also working longer now: an extra 20 minutes a day.

Despite their best efforts to save the gorgeous greenery, you can still see patches of brown grass in certain areas of the city and some plants continue to dry-up.

"The big ones that are in the direct sun gets most of the heat and sucks up most of the moisture," said Warren.  "So we have to water it twice so just the plants don't die.  It's just so hot out here."

"Rain, we're praying for rain," said Searight.

Searight says some of his employees will continue to work weekends, as long as this dry spell drags on.  He says it's especially important to keep the plants lush and green, with the National Governor's Conference coming up next month.

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