Congregation stranded after flood waters surround church

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The rains came in fast and heavy Sunday afternoon across South Mississippi catching many people by surprise. That includes the members of one Gulfport church.

When they arrived for services around 11:30 there was a light rain, but by the time they were headed home the parking lot had become a swimming pool. Members of First United Gospel Assembly Church had no clue their time in church would end up being a five to six hour ordeal.

The more than six and a half inches of rain that was dumped in South Mississippi caused some areas to flood and others like the church grounds to flood heavily.

"Well we were in service and we came out and it was flooded out here. From what I understand the weatherman. He said it rained like six inches in two hours or so something like that," Bishop Otis G. Rankin said.

Although no one was injured Rankin said his congregation's vehicles suffered as waist deep water climbed up to windows and inside some the cars.

"We've contacted, for years, the city about the drainage problem. So I don't know who to talk to at this time," Rankin said.

He said the only flooding that's been worse than this happened during Hurricane Katrina. This time, Rankin hopes someone will do something to get the water flowing properly instead of piling into the grounds of his church.

"Fix the drainage. Do something about it. I'm not sure what they can do about it," he said. "You can pan the area and see the frustration. In fact we're stuck here without food, without anything."

Church let out at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, but one member said six hours later the last few stranded members were finally getting a ride out. The church members said they didn't contact authorities because they knew they had family and friends and a few Good Samaritans to help them get everyone out safely.

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