GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The George County Sheriff's Department says Sunday was its largest rescue operation in history.
Multiple agencies were called in to assist. Eighty-one people were saved from the popular off-road recreational park in George County.
Many of those people were down for an event at the park called Mud Bug Bash, but it was anything, but fun.
The sheriff is saying the owner of the park should have postponed the event. Campers say they should have been given an early warning of the danger.
"I was supposed to be out of here yesterday afternoon and couldn't get out. They didn't tell us," said Dannette Jordan. She says she and her husband were hired to DJ the 2018 Mudbug Bash at Red Creek Off Road park.
Dozens of campers were chased to higher ground overnight by the fast moving water after a storm system flooded the Red Creek and dumped over eight inches of rain in George County.
"The rivers too rough. You can't. It's too cold and it's too swift," said Jordan. "You couldn't even see the parking lot no more, couldn't get out," said one camper.
"Midnight, we could tell that people were going to end up getting trapped on the other side. The water, the current was horrible. I mean like you could barely stand up. If you were to fall in it would have taken you," said Hunter Kabbes of Jackson.
He and friend rode their side-by-sides around the park to rescue people.
Officials said the storm system Saturday night stalled over Red Creek off Road recreational park and overwhelmed the area with flood water. Roads and campsites transformed into a raging river.
"I started crying when the water started coming up to the door," said Fike of Ocean Springs.
Some say the warning was too late. "The water was steadily rising. They came around and told us that it was rising and we needed to evacuate. We looked out the door and it was impossible," said one camper who came to George County with a group of friends from Jackson.
"They should have warned people. We have a loud enough system that they could have warned people. They didn't have to do this. We done moved to three different spots last night. Why? Because of the flood. Because it just kept coming," said Jordan.
Others considered leaving, but opted to brave the weather. "We started seeing it get a little more high. We almost left, but thought not to. [We] figured we would just sit out here and deal with it," said one camper.
The water was so swift and strong, overwhelmed rescuers had to call in other agencies for back up in saving stranded campers.
With thousands of dollars in side-by-sides, RVs and even personal vehicles still at this park, some are frustrated after having to leave their belongings behind. "We've got like 200,000 dollars worth of stuff sitting back there," said another camper from Jackson.
Hunter Kabbes said he called law enforcement when the weather got bad. "We called multiple times last night and told them that we needed search and rescue out here, but somebody I guess called and said everything was fine and that everybody was playing around, and that was not the case," said Kabbes.
George County Sheriff Keith Havard said the owner of the park should be held accountable. "There was warnings way ahead of time. The owner should have probably postponed this event with the conditions that [they] were well aware of," Havard said.
For several hours, rescuers from the Jackson County and George County Sheriff's Departments, Coast Guard, Acadian Ambulance, Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks moved quickly to free trapped campers from the treacherous conditions.
So many of the victims were thankful to be on dry land.
Officials said it will take several days before the water goes down at the park. No major injuries were reported.
If you are want to keep an eye on when the red creek has started to recede click here: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=mob&gage=vesm6
According to weather.gov, in a 24 hour period, the creek has almost risen 10 feet.