GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Thursday night began the first of two meetings with flooding victims in Harrison County District 4.
But the meeting, held at the Good Deeds Community Center in Gulfport and organized by Supervisor Kent Jones, began on a sour note - the facilitator refused to facilitate the meeting.
State NAACP president Derrick Johnson objected to an open meeting that included media, and those not from District 4.
"I don't think it's appropriate to ask people to leave, and it's not my house," Johnson said. "But I drove here from Jackson to have a discussion with the community, and that's the kind of meeting I'd like to have."
A closed meeting, Johnson said, would help "identify all the things we can agree on, and as a unified front, say this is what we'd like to see." The meeting continued despite the president's objections; with Jones leading the discussion.
The meeting was designed as a listening session for those who have suffered flooding for years - particularly in the Turkey Creek area and the Forest Heights Community. But Jones says everyone needs to be involved in solving the problem.
"We need a cohesive, comprehensive plan for flooding, for the entire Harrison County," Jones said. "That includes all five cities."
Gulfport Councilman Kenneth "Truck" Casey agreed.
"We're looking forward to talking to the adjacent municipalities. Because if we're flooding, they're flooding also," Truck said. "If we resolve our flooding issues, it may have them to flood. So it's going to be a partnership. It's going to be a one Coast."
Larger pipes, canal cleaning, water pumps and retention ponds where named as potential solutions.
However, some at the meeting say cleaning ditches isn't enough as long as wetlands are being filled without regard for proper watershed.
The next meeting also will be at the Good Deeds Community Center at 6 p.m. July 12.