WAVELAND, Miss. (AP) — After days of whipping wind and heavy rain, life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is slowly returning to normal. But river flooding continues to trap some people in low-lying areas.
Donald Langham, Jackson County's emergency operations director, said the number of rescues had slowed down by Friday, but some were still getting caught by rising water along rivers.
"As the rivers are rising, that's catching some people off guard,'" Langham said.
To the west, in Hancock County, several feet of swiftly moving water surrounded houses built on stilts on the Jourdan River in Kiln.
At one house, several people tried to secure a floating pier. A car nearby was submerged.
Further south, on Twin Lake, where people anchor their boats during storms, several men tried to free a grounded yacht. A house boat was demolished.
Along the bay in Hancock County, people were cleaning up debris left by receding water and boats had washed into several residents' yards.
Isaac, now a tropical depression, dropped more than 12 inches of rain in some parts of Mississippi with sustained wind of about 40 mph and storm surge of 6 to 8 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
Emergency management officials said that because of the rain, rivers could crest at their highest levels in years. Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Adams said it was still too early to assess damage because there was still flooding in some neighborhoods near rivers from heavy rain dumped north of the coast.
The National Weather Service has issued flood and flash flood watches and warnings for parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
In Bay St. Louis, Sammy and Terri Vance just want to keep their family together. The couple, who spent Friday pulling insulation and wallboard out of their flooded home, said they are worried about losing the four foster children they've had since January.
The foster children are siblings — three girls and a boy ages 4 to 14. Also living with the Vances are their 22-year-old daughter, who is hearing impaired, and 3-year-old son.
"We have no place to go. How can we provide a place for somebody else?" Terri Vane said.
The family had been staying at a local church during Isaac, but was to move out Saturday.
"We'll be homeless when we have to leave the church," Terri Vance said.
In Hancock County, county Supervisor David Yarborough said Friday that two of three shelters in the county have been shut down and residents were beginning to go home.
"It's time to start cleaning up," said Waveland resident Jeff Delle, who was flooded out of his neighborhood on Wednesday.
Allen Barrilleaux, 28, spent Friday morning draining water from the engine of his flooded truck not far from a river in Hancock County.
He had planned to ride out the storm with his wife, a friend and 5-week-old son in their house, which is on stilts, but called for help Wednesday when the water crept close to the house and large pine trees from a nearby mill swirled in the water. They were evacuated safely by boat.
"He slept the whole damn way," Barrilleaux said of his son, Mason.
Water never got into the home and it never lost power. He knows the power didn't go out because he froze a glass of water, put a penny on top of the ice and put it back in the freezer.
"We could have rode it out easy but it's better safe than sorry," he said.
Watching for ant beds as he walked around his green Chevy, Barrilleaux said hurricanes are part of life here, but disasters can hit anywhere, whether it's tornadoes in the Midwest or a volcano in Hawaii.
"Life's cruel," Barrilleaux said, gripping a wrench with a greasy hand. Then he smiled.
"We're like that big ol' ant hill and a guy with a lawnmower just keeps mowing us down."