Tabitha Payne shot video on Monday while at least four inches of rain flooded her O'Neal Road apartment complex. She described one of the scenes she shot. "That's where a truck was trying to get into his apartment. And he ended up backing out because it was too deep."
The apartment's maintenance man had his own description of the Monday flood scene. Paul Baum said it "just looked like a small river instead of a creek, it looked like if you get enough water here you can run a canoe and jet skis down. That's how bad it was."
Flooding at the O'Neal Road apartment complex is nothing new. Residents have become accustomed it. According to Charlotte Barnett, "You need hip boots to walk. I mean especially crossing the street."
The apartment dwellers said storms turn O'Neal Road into a danger zone. On Monday, Tabitha Payne's video captured a truck stuck in a ditch along the roadway. "You couldn't even see the road," she said as she pointed out the truck she videotaped. "You couldn't even tell there was a ditch right there."
The fear in the northern part of Gulfport is that if forecasters are right, and the ominous looking clouds overhead dump more rain on the area, O'Neal Road ditches will fill up again. And a soaking wet apartment complex will once again have an artificial lake right in the middle of it.
Peggy Waldrop thought, "We'll have a couple of accidents probably, and water in front of some of these apartments."
As long as that water doesn't get in the apartments, the tennats at O'Neal Road said they'll be okay. But they'd sure like the city to find a way to prevent future floods.
Councilman Sam Albritton said the city would like to help the O'Neal Road apartment tenants. But there's a problem. The section of the ditch that needs to be cleaned out to prevent flooding, is on private property. And the landowners won't let Gulfport onto their property to do the work.
"We tried in '97 and again in '98 to get access," Albritton said. "The money wasn't the issue. They just didn't want us on their property, and there wasn't much more we could do. The property owner said no. We can't go on their property without their permission."
If heavy rains do soak the area again, Gulfport will station public works employees near the O'Neal Road apartments. That way, the city can make sure debris doesn't block the storm drains, and flood waters can flow out of the complex.