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Rainfall amounts doubled for entire month of January

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — T. J. Covington of Magee Construction uses a chain saw to remove large sections of a tree that fell on Georgia Martin’s house on East Oak Street early Monday morning. The tree fell on Martin’s bedroom, narrowly avoiding crushing her while she slept.

NATCHEZ — The Miss-Lou has received almost double the normal rainfall for the entire month of January in the last 14 days.

According to the National Weather Service’s rain gauge at the Natchez-Adams County Airport, since the turn of the New Year the area has seen 10.66 inches of rain, with 8.12 of those inches a part of a six-day deluge that started Wednesday.

Compared with the monthly averages of rain collected at that gauge, that’s 5.21 inches more than the average January precipitation from 1981 to 2010.

NWS Meteorologist Anna Weber said the days-long dousing is the result of weather patterns and systems lining up and combining to make one long storm.

“First it was a warm front with the same system followed by a cold front, and now it is more of a stalled cold front over the area,” Weber said.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said rain gauges maintained by volunteer storm reporters recorded 7.5 inches in the Morgantown area, 8.5 in the southern part of Adams County and 9.5 inches in the Lake St. John area of Concordia Parish for the period starting Jan. 9 through Monday.

“With all the rain we are getting, as saturated as the soil is right now, it doesn’t take much for the trees to start falling down,” Owens said.

That’s exactly what happened to Georgia Ann Martin early Monday morning.

Martin was asleep in her East Oak Street house when she was awakened at 1:49 a.m. by a cracking noise outside. Instinctively she knew a tree was falling — a leaning tree she had resolved to get removed this year — and almost immediately the bedroom ceiling came crashing down on top of her, Martin said.

“I woke up screaming,” she said.

The four large posts on the bed stopped the tree and roof debris from squashing Martin flat in the bed, but a branch hit her in the head. Blood streaming down her face, Martin slid sideways in her bed, found the floor and made her way to the bathroom.

“I said, “Lord, please let me get out of this room,” she said.

“I called 911 first, then I called my daughter and I said, ‘I have a tree in my house and a hole in my head.’”

Martin was taken to the hospital, treated and released, and Monday afternoon as she made her way through the house that was her home for 24 years, she was able to laugh and joke about the experience.

But her first response after getting back home from the hospital hadn’t been to laugh.

“When they walked me around and showed me where the tree had fallen, I started crying,” she said. “I said, ‘Lord, I am not crying because of the loss, but because you spared me.’”

While the rain that has left the area sodden and squelchy and softened the dirt around tree roots over the last week has slacked off somewhat, don’t expect those mud puddles to dry up just yet. Weber said the area can expect another inch or so of rain over the next couple of days.

“We are expecting that it could be heavy at times, but not for long periods,” she said.

And with that rain will be some lingering cold. Owens said that while the Miss-Lou shouldn’t expect any major freezing, with temperatures getting close to freezing, motorists should be careful and watch for pockets of ice forming on local bridges.

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