Jourdan River Gauge May Soon Disappear

The Devillier family has lived in Jourdan River Shores for 8 years. They say they remember all to well what life was like without a river gauge in the community.

"Looking back five years ago, we had a flood here that put 4 feet of water under the house," Ira Devillier said. "We had no advance warning. Most of my neighbors lost two vehicles or better. Everyone was at a stand still trying to get out."

The automated river gauge was installed on the Jourdan River in 1999. It transmits all types of information about river conditions by satellite to the National Weather Service and then to anyone else who wants it.

"That machine should be in operation because it does provide valuable data which can be accessed on line by the residents at the U.S. Geological survey site where you can get a head start," Jim Lavergne with the Jourdan River Shores Civic Association said. "It gives you the rainfall and the river flow and river stages."

Officials say it takes around $19,000 to operate and maintain the automated flood gauge every year. Up until now, half of that was paid by the U.S. Geological Survey, the other half by the Mississippi DEQ. But DEQ officials say it doesn't have the money for the gauge this year, meaning someone else will have to pick up the tab.

"Basically we pay our taxes here in Hancock county, so Hancock county should be partially responsible," Devillier said.

District 5 Supervisor Jay Cuevas agrees the gauge is a valuable tool to residents, and he says he'll explore a number of funding options.

"It really affects everybody in my district," Cuevas said. "You have to have the cooperation of the whole board to make things like this happen. It's just something we'll have to discuss as a whole board.

The Devilliers and other Jourdan River Shores residents say their lives and property depend on it.