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Pearlington Watches, Waits As Pearl River Rises
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A flooded street in Pearlington on Tuesday, Mar. 15.
Evelina Burnett

The swollen Pearl River is flooding roads and threatening homes in Pearlington. MPB’s Evelina Burnett rode with emergency officials on Tuesday as they kept a close eye on the flooding.

A five-ton Hancock County Emergency Management truck slices through water covering a street in Pearlington. Ancel Jones, a West Hancock firefighter who also works for the emergency service, marks it down as “heavy water” on a printout with a list of streets.

"Heavy water means it's unpassable," he says. "Patrol cars or anything can't come down here, any other vehicle, if they do they'll get watered out and we'll have to come and rescue them."

By Tuesday afternoon, Jones had eight streets on his list marked as "heavy water."

Hancock County emergency management director Brian Adam says about 100 to 200 homes are in harm’s way. That includes an estimated 40 to 60 homes at risk of flooding, as well as others who may be blocked in by the water-covered streets.

“For the last three days, we’ve been riding around the area, checking and seeing what roads have water on them," he says. "About every two hours we try to get out and look at it.”

Dawn Hall watched the activity, including the EMA truck going by, with her mother, sister and other family members, from their porch about two blocks from the river. Built after Hurricane Katrina devastated the community, the house is perched above the ground, so they weren’t too worried about flooding inside their home.

They had supplies and were prepared, and she says others were preparing too. Hall says residents' experiences during Katrina mean they heed warnings now.

"'Cause a lot of people didn’t leave during Katrina. I think now people go or they take precautions," she says.

Forecasters predict the river will crest near Pearlington sometime today.