Cleanup begins for Lawrence County flooding

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Pearl River in Lawrence County reached a river stage of 31.8 feet Friday, causing moderate to major damage to at least five homes.

“That’s all we’ve come up with,” Lawrence County Emergency Management Director Tony Norwood said. “I’ve got a lot of camp houses (that were flooded), but I can’t count those because they’re secondary homes. I’ve got quite a few of them.”

Norwood said, as of Tuesday, Lawrence County did not appear to have had enough damage to qualify for federal aid, though he is currently working on the paperwork. Norwood advised residents to report any damage to their local sheriff or fire department.

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As the flood waters recede, some roads that had been closed have been re-opened, including Hwy. 84 and Hwy. 43. Hwy 184 was opened after an inspection Tuesday afternoon.

Norwood advised that a portion of Road 2143 in the Oma area was still underwater as of Tuesday, along with River Road at Oak Vale and an iron bridge on J W Jones Road.

The Mississippi State Department of Health released a statement warning residents of measures that need to be taken when attempting to clean up areas damaged by storms or flooding. Buildings should be cleaned up and dried out as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.

The MSDH urged residents to wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes. Any items that came into contact with flood waters should be discarded, especially food — including food in plastic or glass — medicine, cosmetics or bottled water. Children should be kept away from any flood water.

Norwood said the flood water was contaminated “big time.”

“We still have a lot of backwater flooding,” he said. “It’s nasty. It’s contaminated. It’s got raw sewage, herbicides, pesticides and fuel. Anything that’s come from farmland. The best thing to do is stay out of the water.”

MSDH said intact cans may be used after being disinfected with one-quarter cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Labels should be removed before dipping them into bleach solution.

While Norwood said county water is currently safe to drink, MSDH advised that homes supplied by private water wells should have their wells inspected, disinfected and sampled. MSDH has detailed instructions for disinfecting contaminated wells at

Cans that are bulging, opened or damaged should be discarded. In the case of a power outage, any perishable foods — including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers — that have been over 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more should be discarded.

While cleaning, MSDH advises residents to be up-to-date on their tetanus shot. The Tdap shot is recommended every 10 years. Residents should also contact local authorities if a property has been contaminated by hazardous chemicals. It’s also important to pace yourself, and avoid working alone. MSDH advices against lifting more than 50 pounds per person.

The MSDH also advises that snakes are a danger during cleanup. Residents should slowly back away from snakes, and they should not attempt to catch or kill them. If bitten by a snake, MSDH advises residents to call 911 immediately. Workers should also wash their hands frequently with soap and clean water. If clean water is not available, alcohol-based products can be used.