A school secretary was struck by lightning, roads collapsed under the pressure of water and part of a neighborhood flooded Friday in Grenada County as torrential rains deluged the area.
The downpour, which according to the National Weather Service in Memphis, would surpass three inches in just a few hours, started prior to dawn.
Around 7:15 a.m., Regina Benson arrived for work at Grenada Middle School.
Water standing in the parking lot forced Benson to walk up on the grass to get to the door. She was carrying an umbrella in her left hand.
Suddenly there was a flash.
“I was stunned, then I heard a crackling,” said Benson.
It wasn’t exactly pain that she felt, Benson said, more of an never-before-felt sensation, something akin to a strong tingle.
“I thought at first about falling to the ground, but I heard God telling me ‘You’re OK. I’ve got you. Keep walking,’” she said.
Somehow, Benson managed to stay on her feet and maintain her composure. She went inside and told a coworker what she thought happened. The coworker then drove Benson to the emergency room.
Doctors performed tests on Benson, helped her settle down, then released her a few hours later with no significant injuries.
“My two kids clung to me all weekend,” said Benson, who was back at work on Monday. “God has a purpose for me, still.”
According to National Geographic, the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 700,000.
Grenada restoration personnel responded to 15 separate power outage Friday beginning at 6:53 a.m.
According to Entergy Customer Account Manager Jim Lyles, the cases affected customers from near Scobey to north of Duck Hill. Six cases were the result of lightning and seven cases due to vegetation, Lyles said. The most severe case occurred near Bogue Creek at Nat G. Troutt Rd., where heavy run-off caused several trees to fall on power lines, breaking one pole.
All customers were restored by 8:00 p.m., according to Lyles.
“I am very proud of how personnel worked safely and quickly to restore power to more than 2,000 customers,” said Lyles.
The Perry Estates Subdivision was one of the areas hardest hit by flooding.
Resident Glenda Williams had to rescue her dog from her back yard before he was washed away, she said.
Shortly after noon, Williams peered out from a back porch that looked like a deck on pond. Tea-colored water rose to the edge of the concrete and stretched south, several inches deep, to a ditch recently hollowed out for drainage by county supervisors.
Williams’ neighbor, Lucius Owens, waded through water midway up his shins in the back yard.
Williams was exasperated, and while she acknowledged that this was an unusually intense rain, flooding is consistently a problem in her neighborhood, she said.
“We have to move our possessions out of our yards on this end of the street all the time and put them in neighbors’ yards when really heavy rains hit,” said Williams.
The water was even higher earlier in the day, Williams said, and she feared it was going to enter the house.
Williams’ nearby neighbor, Ray Latham, was upset and vocal.
“This water is coming off a hill, north of this subdivision,” he said.
Ward Five Supervisor Chad Gray, in who’s district the subdivision is located, said that, even though Perry Estates is technically located within the city limits, his crews recently enlarged a 300-foot stretch of ditch, south of the subdivision, on the west side of Covington Drive, that provides drainage to the area.
“It’s a six-foot box culvert,” said Gray. “Under normal circumstances it works fine. These were extraordinary circumstances.”
East of Williams, on Perry Avenue, Joseph Griffin and his wife, Tammy, looked off their porch at water percolating up from a manhole, vomiting into the street.
“We’ve been here about two years, and I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Griffin, as he held his little dog, Rocky, who was also rescued from a watery fate in the couple’s back yard.
“I’m just so tired of all the rain,” said Tammy.
Gray made two trips to the subdivision Friday, he said, accompanied by representatives from Willis Engineering and Grenada Civil Defense. About an hour after the rain stopped, Gray said, the water in the streets had diminished to nearly nothing.
“I visited with residents, tried to answer their concerns, and I feel like, for the most part, they were satisfied. I feel like we left things amicably,” he said.
Malmaison Headquarters Rd., also received some minor damage in his district, Gray said.