While wading through thigh-high waters, dozens of nursing home residents clung to a rope stretched across a flooded parking lot on Wednesday as they were evacuated from a Mississippi retirement home.
The residents, aided by firefighters, volunteers and state troopers, passed submerged cars as they departed on school buses from the Peach Tree Village nursing home in Brandon, about a 20-mile drive east of downtown Jackson.
The catalyst was a slow-moving weather system that soaked the south with record raincaused flash floods that stranded residents, washed away roads, derailed a train, sneaked into homes and forced numerous rescues.
The rainfall prompted the National Weather Service to issue a “sudden flood emergencyWednesday for nearly 300,000 people in Jackson and nearby communities.
The rain that piled up quickly led to some flash flooding in southern Mississippi and Alabama, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.
“Once the current storm lap subsides tonight, the threat will really diminish,” Miller added. While there are still some showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon forecast for the next few days, coverage and intensity are significantly lower compared to the past few days.
Brandon Mayor Butch Lee said nearly three feet of water from a nearby creek poured into the retirement home, forcing residents to move higher.
“We can replace the stuff, but the people are gone and that’s a good thing,” John Bilbro, an administrator at Peach Tree Village, told CNN affiliate WAPT. Volunteers were seen rushing out of the retirement home, with wheelchairs and walkers.
Rankin County Constable Gary Windham “had seen water rise in this area before, but not in that way,” he told WAPT.
About 27 miles away, more than 100 children and 15 workers had to be rescued from the Railroad Center Day Care in Florence because of the rapidly rising water, according to the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office.
The children, some carried by local police and childcare staff, were evacuated in a school bus and flood rescue vehicles maneuvering through the flooding.
Heavy rains Wednesday, combined with an already saturated soil, led to the flooding in Mississippi. And it came as Dallas recovered from previous flooding and torrential rains that wiped out vehicles and resulted in dozens of high-water rescues.
Jackson received more than 8.5 inches from Tuesday to Wednesday, and some parts of Mississippi received more.
Jackson saw 5.05 inches on Wednesday alone, making it the rainiest day in August on record for the city. And Jackson has set a record for the rainiest August on record with seven days left in the month — 11.57 inches, surpassing the previous figure of 11.51 inches from 2008.
While rainfall isn’t expected to be as heavy or widespread on Thursday as it has been in recent days, more than 5.5 million people were under flood control from eastern Texas to Alabama — including the southern half of Jackson and Mississippi — on Thursday morning, the weather service said.
Some locations in that area can see 2-4 inches, and with the soil already saturated, more flooding is possible.
The flooding caused widespread street closures and damaged roads across the region.
In Newton County, Highway 489 gave way, leaving a gaping hole into which a truck appeared to have fallen.
“The highway has been completely washed away by flooding,” Mississippi Highway Patrol tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
The weather service had warned residents not to drive on flooded roads, as even a foot of water could wash away a small vehicle.
“If you can’t see the road, you have no idea if it still exists underwater. Water can cause the road surface to collapse, leaving nothing under the water,” says the weather service warned.
As heavy rains ravaged the region, the ground collapsed under some tracks in Brandon and two pressurized train cars with carbon dioxide that had detached from a train and rolled into a 20-foot ditch, the mayor said.
Brandon officials said the derailment posed no danger to nearby neighborhoods.
There were also multiple reports of water pouring into homes and businesses.
“All I have are the things I’m wearing right now. The rest of my stuff is all messed up,” Carthage resident SL Wilder told WLBT.
“I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been here for 21 years,” another Carthage resident, Abraham Evans, told the station.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, the first name of John Bilbro, a manager of Peach Tree Village, was misspelled, and the name of the assisted living facility.