Torrential Rains Soak Coastal Mississippi

Ron Lindsey played Wingate subdivision traffic cop. Just before a motorist drove his pickup truck through some street flooding, Lindsey warned the driver, "You're almost to your waist there in the middle."

Lindsey feared the flood waters on Wingate Drive would spill into his sandbag protected home. "We're still recuperating from the last flood," he said, referring to the pouding a storm named Allison left behind. "And here we are getting water in the garage again."

About four inches of rain soaked the coast Wednesday morning. So Gulfport had public works crews all over the city. In flooded areas, they raked out garbage and debris from clogged drains. One employee said, "We're trying to get these drains opened. It's starting to run. It's just taking awhile for it to go down."

Until a couple of months ago, Wingate Drive never had flooding problems. "But in the last few months," Wingate resident Linda McDonald said, "we've had water in here about three times."

A few miles up the road, O'Neal Road apartment tenants are all too familiar with sandbags blocking their front doors. Heavy rains always put the housing complex under water. The Wednesday storm was no exception.

Lee Saige looked at the water surrouding his apartment and said, "Man it's nothing but dirt and grime and mud and water over here."

About that time, a car that had been on drier ground got stuck in the muddy mess. Four people pushed it out. But only after a spinning back tire sprayed them with mud. "Just about every time somebody gets their apartment cleaned out here," Saige said, "this stuff happens again."

Residents said they are angry because Gulfport hasn't fixed the flood problems yet. For now, they feel the only way to prevent flood damage is to live in fear. According to Wingate resident Garry Green, rain means it's time to "get to work, start sandbagging, before I have another loss like I did last time."

Gulfport public works director Kris Riemann said the city put $100,000 in its new budget to begin engineering work on the O'Neal Road flooding problems. As for the problems near Wingate Drive and Dedeaux Road, Riemann said larger drainage pipes and a deeper drainage canal should reduce that area's flooding. But, the city only has funding for the canal project.