Storm dumps 6 inches of rain on area

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It was a quaint little lake, 10 private acres of muddyMississippi water where the bass and carp grew long and heavy.

Built by the late R. Lee Stamps in the 1940s, Stamps ChinquapinSprings on River Road was named after the Chinquapin oak tree thatgrows where underground springs spew onto the surface. Robert andShirley Stamps still live on its small shores, where they enjoytheir peaceful property from a brick front porch or from apink-topped gazebo that hovers on the water’s surface.

But after thunderstorms passed through and dumped 6 inches ofrain onto Lincoln County Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning,Stamps Chinquapin Springs swelled up and blew out River Road,washing approximately 435,600 square feet of water into the woodson the west side, leaving a long field of mud and stumps where thelake was a day before.

“We’ve had a beautiful view from the front porch, and look at itnow,” said Shriley Stamps, 75. “I just couldn’t believe it. It wasalmost like a tornado hit it.”

Robert Stamps, 76, said the lake has blown out two or threetimes over the last 60 years, but never this bad.

He stood and watched Wednesday morning as big, white fish washedto their doom in the woods beyond the lake, where a massivedrainage pipe that had relieved pressure on the body lay wedged inthe trees. Piles of dirt and police tape tied around “bridge out”signs blocked traffic from the gaping hole in River Road.

But Robert’s lake will be back.

“It’s spring-fed, so it will fill back up,” he said. “If weanother rain like we did (Tuesday) night, it will right back up.Mother Nature will take care of it.”

Stamps Chinquapin Springs wasn’t the only place that sufferedunder the weight of nearly 24 straight hours of rainfall.Brookhaven officials and Lincoln County workers stayed busythroughout Tuesday evening as heavy rainfall soaked the city andcounty.

By Wednesday morning, 6.4 inches of rain had fallen. The showerscaused the Brookhaven Police Department and the Street Departmentto close multiple streets including Chickasaw Street, HalbertHeights Road, Industrial Park Road, Schwem Avenue, WashingtonStreet and West Congress Street throughout Tuesday night.

“Six inches – that’s the most we’ve had in a long time,especially in that short period of time,” said Civil DefenseDirector Clifford Galey. “It was just more than what our creeks andditches could handle. I feel like we’ll have some more road damagewhen the water goes down, but that probably won’t happen until latethis evening or tomorrow.”

The bridge on West Chickasaw Street drew a large amount ofattention.

Street Department Director Wilmer Butler said the ditch wasoverflowing and the street was closed at 7:30 p.m. Butler said theinclement weather has caused him to install guardrails along thebridge.

“It was something – it was scary. It was very scary,” saidButler. “If we would have had an accident or anyone fell in thereit would have been over.”

The downpour also proved to be trouble for area residents. Twounfortunate vehicles required the use of a wrecker to escape theflooding on West Congress and Chickasaw Street.

Magnolia Electric Member Services Director Lucy Shell reported950 power outages from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. Shell also mentionedlightning had struck and split a pole on Highway 44 in PikeCounty.

Entergy Customer Service Manager Kenny Goza said less than 100customers in Lincoln County lost power during the night. All wereback on by this morning.

“That was pretty good considering all the weather,” Gozasaid.

The hazardous weather did not contain itself to area roads andhighways. A dwelling on South Washington Street and a single-storyhouse off of Woodland Hill drive flooded.

“It was pretty bad,” said Water Department Superintendent LannyDickey. Although thunder shook the homes of area residents and rainsaturated the city, nearly tripling the yearly rainfall total, nomajor accidents or injuries were reported.

“(The night) went good considering the weather,” said Butler.”It could have been worse.”