National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Big Bay Lake Dam Break 


On March 12, 2004, at approximately 1235 pm, the Big Bay Lake dam, on
Bay Creek failed. This lake is located 11 miles west of Purvis Mississippi
on Bay Creek Road in Lamar county. This earthen dam is 57 feet high and the 
lake is 900 to 1000 acres. Beneath the dam is Bay Creek which flows into 
Lower Little Creek about 1 mile south of the dam. Lower Little Creek 
flows west into Marion county and then into the Pearl River 10 miles south 
of Columbia.

At this time, a total of 104 homes or businesses have been damaged by the 
flood waters. Of the 104 damaged structures, 48 were completely destroyed, 
37 sustained major damage and 19 sustained minor damage. In addition, 30 
roads were damaged or closed during the event. The affected area stretched 
some 17 miles west of the dam to where Lower Little Creek meets the Pearl 

The most catastrophic damage occurred within the first 5 miles below the 
dam along Bay Creek and Lower Little Creek. The first major impact of the 
flood waters occurred as 15-20 feet of water crossed Columbia-Purvis Road. 
Here numerous trees were flattened as the water rushed through. Next was 
Tatum-Salt Dome Road where 75 yards of the road was washed out. Several 
homes were moved off of their foundation here while numerous automobiles 
were swept 1/4 mile into the woods and lodged up in trees. Two mobile 
homes were moved off their blocks and lodged against a tree line. There 
was 10-15 feet of water moving through this area. Areas along Robbins Road 
were among the hardest hit. This road basically parallels Lower Little Creek 
for slightly over a mile. Many homes along this road were severely damaged 
or destroyed. Every home that was not attached to a concrete slab was moved
off its foundation. All automobiles in the area were swept 1/4 mile from their
original location. Robbins Road meet up with Caney Church Road where a 
section of the road was washed out. The next road was Luther-Saucier Road. 
Here a small section of the road was washed out. Just west of Luther-Saucier 
Road is McGraw Road. Here the water was 5 feet deep. Three homes along this 
road were moved off their foundation.

As the flood waters entered Marion county they seemed to slow and be 
more confined to the creek channel. However, several homes were flooded 
by 3-5 feet of water along with a few ft of water flowing over Highway 13. 
All this was in and near the community of Pinebur. A large section of Pine
Burr Road was washed out where the creek crossed the road. Large sections
of asphalt were removed from the road bed and placed neatly in residents

The best way to describe the damage is "Incredible". The power of the 
flood water was amazing as it produced damage that was comparable to 
F2, F3 and F4 tornado damage.