Workers at the Gulfport animal shelter cringe when the forecast calls for heavy rain.
That's because the bad weather brings flooding and backed up sewage to the aging facility. Those who care for the animals have been through the drill before. But the bad weather problems are getting even worse.
Humane Society employees spent Friday morning removing damaged duct work and insulation from above the ceiling. Falling sheet rock brought more misery to workers who are used to battling messes in the aging facility. A plywood patch in the bathroom ceiling is the latest evidence of an ongoing problem.
"This morning we had some sheet rock come off part of the roof in the bathroom so it was leaking a little bit more in there. The treatment plant backs up, so all of our floors back up and we have to turn the pumps on," explained assistant director, Robin Bush.
"Right now, everything's draining fine. The last time it backed up, about ten minutes ago, you can see the raw sewage that actually comes up through the drains in here," said one employee as he pointed out the problems.
You could see the latest high water mark on the bricks. Caring for the animals is a full time job. The bad weather brings unwanted headaches and messes.
"It gets really hard when the water floods like this and you've got dogs standing in water that you have to keep moving around to keep them out of the water, keep them warm, keep them dry," said Bush.
Heavy rain brings problems enough. Hurricanes are worse.
"The last hurricane we had, we actually had rats, dead rats that were floating here and coming up through the pipes. So, it was pretty bad," she said.
Workers and volunteers do their best to care for the animals and keep them dry. They're counting on support from the community to realize their dream of a new shelter facility.
"I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to hang on," said Bush.
The Humane Society of South Mississippi wants to build a new shelter in an abandoned warehouse on 25th Avenue in downtown Gulfport. The city granted a zoning variance, but some neighborhood opponents filed a legal challenge. A hearing is scheduled for April 19th.