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A historic amount of rainfall caused flash flooding and led to the evacuation of some area buildings on Friday afternoon, as a passing cold front spawned thunderstorms that doused West Point for most of the day and left a trail of widespread damage throughout the state.
In Mississippi, five deaths were reported due to the weather and several tornadoes were spotted, including an EF-3 twister that caused two deaths in Clinton.
Locally, the threat of high winds and tornadic activity never fully developed. Instead, West Point received more than six inches of rain in less than five hours, setting a record for rainfall on April 15 and creating a litany of flood-related problems throughout the city.
"I've been here for 35 years and I've never seen anything like it," said Clay County Emergency Management Director Johnny Littlefield. "There was just too much rain and it happened too fast. When you have that situation, flooding is going to happen, you just have to be prepared as best you can."
At just after 1 p.m. on Friday, local emergency officials responded to the first report of flooding at Norris Court, which is located just off North Forest Street. Flash floods caused water to seep into apartments at the complex and covered the property in water that reached depths of three-to-four feet in some places. Officials from every emergency response unit in the area responded, and tenants were evacuated from the apartments. A similar scene took place at Ridgewood East Apartments on East Main Street, and flooding was reported throughout the city, with reports coming in from Bulldog Street, North Division, Dunlap Road, West Morrow Street, Lone Oak Drive, Lone Oak Road and Dr. Sears Road in Clay County.
Most of the problems with flooding happened in high-density areas like apartment complexes, as residents returned home to see cars nearly submerged in water that rushed out of local ditches and creeks.
No injuries or fatalities were linked to Friday's rain in Clay County, a fact that makes the area fortunate in comparison with other regions of the state.
"Don't get me wrong, today was a tough day. But it would have been a lot worse," said Littlefield. "We didn't have to deal with the tornadoes and wind damage that they had to deal with down South."
For his part, Littlefield credited emergency officials throughout West Point with their timely response, mentioning the West Point Fire Department, West Point Police Department, Public Works, and officials from Clay County.
"Everybody worked together and got through a bad situation about as well as it could have been done," Littlefield said.
Prior to Friday's storms, the record for rainfall on April 15 in Clay County was just over three inches. That mark was passed easily Friday, as five inches of rain fell between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Further storms later in the day pushed the total amount over six inches.