A grim scene awaited state troopers, emergency workers, and rescue teams responding to a crash site in southeastern Mississippi late Monday. Seven vehicles driving through the two-lane Mississippi Highway 26 – some 36 miles from Mobile, Alabama – had plunged, one after another, into an abyss 50 to 60 feet long and 20 to 30 feet deep. As a result, at least two people were killed and 10 others injured, three of them critically. Drone footage shows the scene of the devastation…
According to Mississippi Highway Patrol Cpl. Cal Robertson, torrential rainfall caused by Hurricane Ida is believed to be the reason behind the collapse of Highway 26 west of Lucedale. With the rain pouring down, the drivers may not have realized that the roadway in front of them had disappeared. Explains Robertson:
You can imagine driving at night with heavy rain coming down. It’s just nothing but a wall of water, your headlights kind of reflecting back on you.
The National Weather Service estimates that Ida dumped as much as 13 inches of rain as it blew through Mississippi.
Meanwhile, drone footage from the crash site shows both the east and westbound lanes as collapsed:
Hurricane Ida ‘liquified’ roadbed under Mississippi highway
The drone video of the collapsed highway also reveals that a path has been created by groundwater, which is beneath the earth, not surface water. Kelly Castleberry, a district engineer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, tells local news outlets:
It is a slide, which means the ground under the roadway and embankment was super-saturated and we can tell right now that’s what caused the slide. The ground liquified and it spread several hundred feet to the south.
Castleberry further explains that groundwater from Ida’s rain, a water-line leak, or both, could have caused the collapse.
With survey crews on scene, the state road agency is now trying to determine what repairs will be needed to reopen the road.
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