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Oxford Begins to Dry Out But Waiting on Water Test Results

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor

A second water line break was discovered Saturday night by Highway 7 and Belk Boulevard.
Photo from the city of Oxford

Now that water has been restored to Oxford households, city officials and residents now await the results from the Mississippi Department of Health to see if a precautionary boil notice can be lifted.

City crews with Oxford Utilities worked all weekend to find and repair two water line breaks that happened after heavy rains caused road erosion that left the pipes cracked and exposed.

Most of the city was without water for several hours on Saturday. A precautionary boil notice was issued for all Oxford water customers.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said Monday morning that 50 samples of the city’s water were delivered to the Mississippi Department of Health in Jackson early Monday morning.

“We are told we should have the results sometime Wednesday morning,” she said during a Board of Aldermen work session.

The precautionary boil notice remains in effect for all water customers until the results come back.

Tannehill said she was proud of how hard city employees and department heads worked over the weekend.

“I am so grateful to this board and all of the people in this room and not in this room that I have the privilege of working with,” she said. “Every department played a role in dealing with the challenges from this weekend.”

Oxford received 11 inches of rain on Thursday and Friday and more than 14 inches in less than a week’s time.

Audobon Dam eroded and threatened to break through leaving Northpoint subdivision.
Photos by Alyssa Schnugg

The heavy rains caused several roads to close and damaged several homes in Lafayette County.

According to Lafayette County Emergency Management Director Steve Quarles, five houses and three businesses were damaged by flood waters.

“There may be more but those are the ones I’m aware of at the moment,” he said Monday.

Most of the flooding in the county was not due to flash flooding but from local lakes and rivers overflowing.

The Yocona River reached over flood stage Saturday morning at 29 feet. Flood stage is 25 feet. However, as of Monday afternoon, the river was at about 13 feet.

Yocona River runoff Saturday morning.
Photo provided

The excessive rain and river runoff caused a Northpointe dam to fail, threatening to break completely and possibly flooding homes in the subdivision.

However, Mother Nature gave Lafayette County a break. Predicted heavy rains storms and severe thunderstorms Saturday night went north and skipped over the county.
“It was an answer to prayers,” Quarles said.

The break in the rain gave the county time to pump water out of the lake and now the Northpointe Homeowner’s Association will look at repairing the dam.

Quarles said the county issued a Declaration of Disaster Saturday morning, allowing county crews to go on private property to assist with flooding and other weather-related issues.
“I suspect with all of the damage Mississippi received we will get a Federal declaration,” Quarles said.

If that happens, Lafayette County could receive some federal funds to help with clean up; however, not enough homes were damaged for there to be private assistance available, even with a federal declaration.

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