Floods subside quickly
Tornado sirens blaring in the town between nine and ten Saturday night had Tunicans scrambling for cover, but the funnel cloud that was indicated on radar stayed on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi.The warning proved to be Mother Nature’s last shot in an eventful weather day, with heavy rains mid-morning Saturday causing flash floods throughout the town and surrounding areas.A total of about four and a half inches of rain fell in less than two hours, town operations manager Ellis Koonce III said Monday.
“The ditches did all they could,” Koonce said. “When you have that much water in that short of time, there are going to be problems.”
But Koonce had the town crew out during the day Friday checking culverts and cleaning out ditches in preparation for heavy rainfall that was forecast. The crew was back out Saturday with the sewer machine, breaking up jams around the culverts.
“A clean-up on the ditches leading away from town several years ago really helped the situation,” Koonce said.
Flooding along Antioch Street was the most serious. Water backed up into the parking area at Golden Estates apartments and around a church and several homes in the vicinity.
Flooding on the north end of School Street, at the intersection of School and Academy and other locations threatened several homes, and Main Street near the First Baptist Church was partially covered, but the water receded fairly quickly.
“Within an hour or two, most had run off,” Koonce said.
A second round of heavy rain dumped another inch or so Saturday afternoon.
Tunica County activated its emergency warning system shortly after 9 p.m., dialing telephones throughout the county to warn people to “seek shelter” from a possible tornado.
“We had the warning about a system near Dumas, AR from the Memphis weather service at about 9 p.m. for the west central part of the county,” Randy Stewart, emergency management director, said. “We then activated the sirens and the reverse dialing system. All of that plus the news media is part of our overall warning system.
“The reverse calls reached up to 45 percent of Tunica County households before the tornado warning for Tunica County was cancelled about 10 p.m.,” Stewart said.
Within the county, flooding threatened homes in a subdivision off Dulaney Road. County officials, with the assistance of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board, put out 30-40 sandbags, Stewart added.
Two intersections along Josephine Road – at Old Highway 61 and at White Oak Road – were under water for a time, but floodwater receded quickly, Stewart said. Some minor wind damages were reported at Tunica Cut-off. Three and a half to four inches of rain were in the gauge at the county’s Emergency Operations Center, recording rainfall from noon Friday through noon Saturday. Stewart said rainfall was heavier in North Tunica County.
For the most part, the Dumas storm never crossed the river but hugged the west banks, prompting an evacuation at the Beale Street Music festival in Memphis about 10 p.m.
The same system of storms brought 13 inches of rain to North Memphis and Tipton County, causing extensive flood damage in Millington and along the Highway 51 corridor.
North Mississippi counties Alcorn, Benton, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall and Union were also hard hit, with one death, damages to home and apartments and major flooding reported in Alcorn; two deaths, four injuries, 11 homes destroyed in Benton; one death, two homes destroyed and damages to 20 others in Lafayette; one death in Lee, 21 homes and over 20 roads damaged in Marshall and one death, 11 homes, three business, and two bridges damaged in Union.
Last weekend was the second straight to hit the state with devastating wind or water damage. Several counties in Mississippi have qualified for federal disaster aid from the tornados that hit central Mississippi on April 24.