Ongoing flooding is creating a nightmare in some parts of South Mississippi as the floodwaters that wreaked havoc on Central Mississippi make their way downstream. A rainy weekend didn’t help matters, prompting one river to crest higher than projected and slowing the progress of the waters’ recess.
Near Columbia, the Pearl River crested at 25.8 feet on Sunday due to the rainfall, which is slightly higher than the 25.5 feet that had been predicted in earlier forecasts. Yesterday it sat at 25.4 feet, which is considered a moderate flooding level. It’s still unknown how many homes flooded in Marion County as a result.
The American Red Cross’s Mississippi Chapter opened up a shelter at a church in Columbia and others are on standby in Pearl River County, where floodwaters are expected to crest later this week. The river is also being monitored in Hancock County. In Lawrence County, meanwhile, the Pearl River crested at 31.76 feet on Friday and sat at 29.6 feet on Monday; this is well above the flood stage there of 22 feet.
The Mississippi River has also surpassed the flood stage, and emergency officials are keeping a close eye on Vicksburg and Natchez, the latter of which is expected to see the Mississippi crest seven feet above flood level.
This comes as widespread flooding left almost 3 million people under a state of emergency in Mississippi last week when the Pearl River rose to historic levels.
As of last week, 1,200 homes had been damaged as flooding took over the areas surrounding the state’s capital, Jackson. Flash flood watches became the order of the day as storms continued to drench the area. Although the river crested at a lower height than initially expected – hitting 36.67 feet rather than the projected height of 38 feet – the situation remains highly concerning and a 38-foot water height was reported near Highway 25 to the north of the Barnett Reservoir dam.
Evacuations have been ordered throughout Jackson and other parts of Central Mississippi, with authorities going door to door in the areas that have been hit the hardest telling people to evacuate. Assisted evacuations are also being carried out by local law enforcement.
Last Monday’s crest was just over 6 feet shy of the record of 43.28 feet that was set in 1979. The river has only topped 36 feet on seven occasions, and the last time such a height was seen was in 1983.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency declaration to help those affected get the resources they need. He tweeted that it was a “historic, unprecedented flood.” President Trump called the governor to voice his concern and offer help with the relief efforts.
Unfortunately, more rain has been forecast for this week along with additional storms, so authorities are asking people not to return to their homes until they are given the official go-ahead.
Authorities expect hundreds and possibly thousands of damaged homes as a result of the flooding, but they report that residents have been largely cooperative when it comes to evacuation orders. More than 156,000 sandbags have already been distributed in the area, and temporary shelters are also in place for evacuees.
This flooding is a good reminder that natural disasters can strike any time, often without warning, so being prepared is essential.
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