GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There’s new hope for people who live near Turkey Creek in Gulfport and constantly worry about flooding during heavy rains.
At Forest Heights Baptist Church, sandbags are never far out of reach to ward off flooding from Turkey Creek. Time has taken a toll on an existing levee that was built to provide protection. At a meeting Tuesday, residents heard about the possible permanent solution.
Justin McDonald is with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
“It’s an improved levee to be FEMA certified, with an elevation of 21 plus feet along with some improvements to Turkey Creek and an interior drainage system and pump system put in to help get water out of the community,” McDonald explained.
Until then, temporary measures are going to be taken to keep Turkey Creek at bay.
“The first stop gap is the clearing and snagging of the creek and I think we’re trying to get something done through the BP money, so that’s being worked on today,” said Gulfport City Engineer Kris Riemann.
For residents, the constant threat of high water happens way too much.
“Probably about eight or nine times," resident Mary Spinks-Thigpen recalled. “And it’s very frustrating because you can’t afford to put your car in that kind of water. You can’t get to the doctors or meetings when it happens like that.”
Others, like Richard Marsh, feel that Forest Heights has been ignored by the city.
“You want to help us improve, help us improve. So you look at the different budgets that are set forth in what ward, then you need to fund those budgets," Marsh implored.
Another flooding concern for the council person who represents the Forest Heights area is the proposed $8 million extension of Creosote Road, right next to the Premium Outlets, all the way down to Canal Road. It’s an area full of wetlands, and further development could be dangerous.
“If the road is built, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to flood out almost 200 homes and a church. It shows very clearly that you’re not giving the respect to the citizens that they deserve,” Gulfport Council Member Ella Holmes-Hines said.
The federal government would pick up 65% of the $18 million price tag for the new flood control measures, with a 35% local match. Some of that money could come from Restore Act funds. Right now, there’s no timetable as to when funding will be approved or when work could begin.