‘Get out now’: Mayor urges residents to flee ahead of rising river waters in Mississippi

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Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba urged residents to “leave now” during a news conference Saturday.

Authorities previously predicted that the Pearl River would reach 36 feet on Tuesday and peak after record rains over the past few days, but the river is now expected to rise late from Sunday to Monday evening before slowly descending.

A flood stage is considered “large” at 26 feet. The current flood warning says dozens of additional streets in downtown Jackson will flood at 34 feet, with water close to entering homes in Northeast Jackson at 35.8 feet.

“We expect the water to start affecting neighborhoods as early as Sunday evening,” Lumumba said, adding that 150 homes are expected to be affected by the flooding.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on Saturday due to rising river water and urged residents to remain calm. The state has already begun assessing water levels along the river using drones and has deployed more than 100,000 sandbags, according to the statement.

“The state of Mississippi is as prepared as possible for these floods,” Reeves said. “My administration, including (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency), is closely monitoring this situation and is actively working to respond as quickly as possible to ongoing flooding developments.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the river has reached such a high level. Several neighborhoods in northeast and downtown Jackson were flooded, and the Pearl River reached its third-highest record at 36.7 feet during a major flood in February 2020.

Authorities warn communities affected by the 2020 flood are at high risk of being hit again. “Residents of the affected areas must be ready to leave within 48 hours,” Lumumba said on Saturday.

The mayor warned residents that the flood water could remain on the ground for several days and residents should be prepared to stay out of their homes for up to two weeks.

A flood warning will remain in effect in parts of Mississippi, including in Jackson around the Pearl River, until further notice, the National Weather Service said.

In Ridgeland, Mississippi, just north of Jackson, residents evacuated during the 2020 floods have had to pack their bags again.

“Hopefully it won’t get bad. That’s all we’re praying for,” Ridgeland resident Krystal Ferguson told CNN affiliate WAPT. She said her family stayed in a hotel for five days during the 2020 floods.
Flooding from heavy rainfall that has plagued the region in recent days was seen near the state capital in downtown Jackson, Mississippi on Wednesday.

Mayor: Don’t put yourself in danger

This week, a slow-moving weather system drenched parts of the south, triggering flash flooding in Mississippi that forced evacuations, washed away roads, derailed a train, sneaked into homes and led to numerous rescues.

On Saturday morning, after heavy rainfall, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District increased the discharge from the Barnett Reservoir to 60,000 cubic feet per second, a move the district warned will bring water onto the streets of Jackson.

A train is derailed and roads are washed away after torrential rains ravage parts of Mississippi
“There will be water on several streets in Jackson and some homes and businesses may be approaching,” water district officials said in a press release Saturday morning. “It’s likely that the runoff could be increased again in the next 24 hours, allowing water to enter homes.”

According to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam, the threat of flooding will be limited to localized areas on Sunday as slow-moving thunderstorms reform during the day. Scattered thunderstorms could produce an additional 1-2 inches of rain Sunday night, mainly south of Interstate 20.

Hot and humid conditions will persist, peaking in the mid to upper 1980s.

The mayor of Jackson urged residents to stay away from flooded areas.

“We don’t need tourists, and we don’t need you endangering yourself or those helping rescue efforts,” Lumumba said.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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