Itta Bena flooding

Houses along Freedom Street at Kennedy Drive and Mitchell Street were surrounded by water Thursday as Leflore County pumps designed to remove water from the area failed. Residents were in an identical situation in February when the Delta was hit with widespread flooding.

The storms that passed through Leflore County and Greenwood Wednesday night and Thursday morning brought substantial rain to the area, but the numbers show the county dodged the worst of it. Some people in Itta Bena, however, experienced flooding that seemed a replay of late February.

In the 18 hours that ended at noon Thursday, rainfall at Greenwood-Leflore Airport measured 2.68 inches. The worst of it, 1.6 inches, fell between 7 and 10 a.m. Thursday.

Just to the west, Mid Delta Regional Airport in Greenville recorded 5.93 inches in the same 18-hour period, or more than twice as much as Leflore County.

The amount of rain didn’t matter to people in houses along Kennedy Drive and Mitchell Street, just north of Freedom Street, on the west end of Itta Bena. Their subdivision was under as much water as in late February, their houses surrounded, keeping residents from going to work or school.

The low, flat area is meant to drain to the south through culverts under raised railroad tracks, across a field and under County Road 514 before filling a drainage ditch between the road and a series of catfish ponds. Leflore County has two pumps at the west end of the drainage ditch, designed to move water into a creek that flows into a swampy brake and then into Blue Lake at Berclair.

Sometime Wednesday night, the pumps were knocked out. County workers said Thursday they suspected lightning may have been to blame.

A pump running off the engine of a tractor was being used to lower water levels Thursday as electricians tried to rewire the pumps.

Itta Bena flooding

The engine from a tractor keeps a temporary pump working as electricians work on rewiring twin pumps Leflore County operates just west of Itta Bena. The pumps are meant to remove water from the area and move it through creeks toward Blue Lake in Berclair.

In the meantime, Sadie West, who lives with her children in a house surrounded by water at 204 Mitchell St., said the day was a replay of what she and her neighbors lived through at the end of February.

“Yes, February 28th,” she said. “The water started coming up last night. It got into my house under the door.”

West said her living-room carpet was flooded, just as it was three months ago. She’d had it cleaned in February but said she might have to throw it out this time.

West, who has lived in her home for 40 years, said the subdivision floods “every now and then.” Her next-door neighbor’s house appeared lower than hers, with water lapping against the walls. “They lost everything last time,” she said.

Despite the periodic flooding, or maybe because of it, West said the same people have lived in the same houses in her neighborhood since she moved in back in the 1970s.

The situation with the neighborhood in Itta Bena made the water problem in Greenwood on Thursday morning seem more of an inconvenience. West Jeff Davis Avenue from Medallion Drive past Peggy Lane was closed to traffic as water backed up along Peggy Lane.

Eddie Curry, city director of wastewater management, said it was a matter of more rain accumulating in the low area than pumps could handle. The water was gone by late morning.

“The good Lord sent down more rain than we can pump out at one time,” Curry said.

He said the system in the area is triggered automatically by float valves when water reaches a certain level. The pumps work in conjunction with flood gates along the Tallahatchie River that keep river water from backing up through storm sewers into the street, Curry said.

Residents along the street, said Lisa Ramsey at 513 W. Jeff Davis, regularly watch water levels in the street climb over lawns when a hard rain falls.

The rains caused some flooding in the Browning Community but not as much as happened in February. Most of the water was confined to full drainage ditches and fields with some spilling over onto the lanes of County Road 520 near Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. The area lies in a lower portion of the county, and supervisors have ordered more pumps to help move water from flooded fields to the river system.

Browning flooding

Water occupies the right lane of County Road 520 Thursday morning in the Browning Community, a low-lying area that is frequently flooded during heavy rains.

The forecasts call for more rain through the weekend, a situation that resulted in the Down Home Blues Fest at Florewood Park being rescheduled for June 22 and the Revival on the River being moved indoors to the Leflore County Civic Center, just as it was last May.

Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliska@gwcommonwealth.com.

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