The Mississippi Sound was choppy. But the waves weren't as ferocious as they've been in previous tropical storms. Bertha left a few puddles on the beach. And it washed ashore handfuls of seashells.
The Martin family took the seashells home. The kids wanted to show their friends back in Tupelo what Tropical Storm Bertha left behind, after it quietly interrupted their vacation. Bobby Martin said his family barely knew the storm had come ashore. "We didn't know nothing about it," Martin said. "We slept right through it."
Bertha dumped rain on South Mississippi. And that temporarily flooded a few roads.
Once Bertha became a tropical storm, a skeleton crew opened Harrison County's Emergency operations center. Harrison County Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse spent the night at the command post. "We had an EMS station manned," she said. "And we had a sheriff's department, law enforcement manned."
During the overnight hours, Rouse's team watched the tropical storm spin through the coast. "Last night was kind of slow," Rouse said. "But you never know how it's going to be. We had a lot of people with a lot of interest wanting to know what was going to happen, so we always man the office, in case something unexpected comes up."
Something unexpected -- like the heaviest rains originally forecast to move through Mississippi and Louisiana suddenly heading up through Alabama. Rouse looked at her radar and said the storm split. "So actually it's to our advantage that it's breaking apart," she said.
Most of South Mississippi still had to worry about rising rivers spilling over their banks. But Rouse said Bertha proved to be nothing more than a good dress rehearsal for the next tropical storm or hurricane that bears down on the coast.
by Brad Kessie
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