Residents of the Harbor Pines Community trailer park in Ridgeland were forced to evacuate the area due to the flooding of the Pearl River.
Residents of the Harbor Pines Community trailer park in Ridgeland were forced to evacuate the area due to the flooding of the Pearl River.
RIDGELAND — Harbor Pines resident Sheila Peeples had just returned home from eating out with her husband and son Friday night when there was a knock at the door.

The Ridgeland Police officer on the other side told her she’d have to evacuate her home by 9 a.m. the next morning due to rising to flood waters. She essentially had roughly 12 hours to get whatever she needed out of their trailer.

“It’s tough,” Sheila said. “Because what do you take? I just packed a bag and tried to grab the essentials.”

Her son Garret Peeples, a member of the Mississippi National Guard, put his uniform on top of one of his dressers, high enough that it would stay dry unless the flood waters overtook the entire trailer.

They took most of the food that would spoil out of the refrigerator and, satisfied that her cats had enough food to last a couple of days, headed for the family cabin at a deer camp in Holmes County.

Well before the Pearl River reached its third-highest crest on record at 36.7 feet Monday afternoon, Peeples’ mobile home community was impassable. The Ridgeland Police Department posted at the point of ingress, barring entrance to anyone.

The residents here were not allowed to return until Tuesday, when RPD began allowing folks to access to their homes during daylight hours to check on their belongings and retrieve necessary items. Officials could give Peeples no timetable on how long it will take to turn the power back on in the neighborhood, which includes around 120 mobile homes.

“I’ll say this,” she said. “The Ridgeland Police Department has done a great job of handling all this. They have been at the entrance to the neighborhood 24-7. One of the main concerns I had about leaving everything was looters or burglars, but they’ve been and they’ve been good about communication.”

Peeples was fortunate. While the water rose approximately two feet — close to the level of the top of her wooden porch steps — she didn’t have any moisture in the house. The cats were a little restless, but fine. She did get some water in a shed behind her house, but she wasn’t stopping Tuesday to see if tools like her leaf blower were permanently damaged.

Some of her neighbors were not so lucky. Some tenants at the end of the street could not access their trailers except by wading through a couple of feet of water that still remained 24 hours after the river’s crest. Others needed to be driven in on one of Ridgeland PD’s ATVs. It did not appear Tuesday that anyone actually had water inside their home, but some ground-level outdoor sheds and storage units littering the properties held between two and three feet of water Monday.

Harbor Pines was one of several communities in the Jackson metro area impacted by flooding over the weekend. In all, an estimated 1,000 households were displaced due to the rising waters.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held a press conference Monday urging residents to be as patient as possible having declared a State of Emergency.

“Please do not move back into your neighborhood or into your home until authorities and officials give you the OK to do so,” Reeves said, adding that just 16 search and rescue missions were needed despite the estimated 1,000 flooded homes.

He concluded by warning that Central Mississippi is not out of the woods just yet. With more rainfall due this week, Reeves asked area residents to stay vigilant and pay attention to warnings from local officials.

According to NOAA, the Jackson metro alone has received nearly 20 inches of rainfall since the start of the year, with the last 6.13 inches coming since the start of February. That problem has been compounded by steady rains north of Jackson flowing to the Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Flooding has been a problem in other parts of the state, as well. Simpson County still had several roads closed Wednesday from the Pearl River flooding and the Chickaswhay River in Green County was above its flood stage Tuesday morning.

The lake had been lowered dramatically to a pool elevation of 295’ above sea level to combat an invasive weed in Pelahatchie Bay.

On Sunday, the Reservoir was “over full” at 298.5’ above sea level, only 1.5’ from topping the emergency spillway.

This was done to help control the flooding from the Pearl River down stream in Flowood and Jackson, officials said.

If the Reservoir had been lowered in November, flooding could have been catastrophic by potentially adding another three feet below the dam.