Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency On Saturday, as weather and emergency management officials now anticipate the Pearl River Ridge in Jackson on Monday – about 24 hours earlier than originally expected – after record rainfall this week.
“If the forecast proves accurate, the Pearl River is expected to crest on Monday August 29 at 36 feet,” Reeves said in the statement.
A flood stage is considered “major” at 26 feet. The current flood warning says dozens more streets in downtown Jackson will be flooded to 34 feet, with water nearing homes in northeast Jackson at 35.8 feet .
“The State of Mississippi is as prepared as possible for this flood. My administration, including MEMA, is monitoring this situation closely and working actively to respond as quickly as possible to the ongoing developments with the flooding,” Reeves said.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba called for voluntary evacuations in areas likely to be affected by rising waters, adding, “We expect the waters to start affecting neighborhoods as early as Sunday evening.”
Both Lumumba and Reeves warned residents if their homes were flooded during the 2020 flood, there’s a good chance it will happen again.
“Residents of these affected areas should be ready to leave within 48 hours,” Lumumba told a press conference on Saturday.
Several neighborhoods in northeast and downtown Jackson were flooded and the Pearl River reached its third highest crest on record at 36.7 feet in February 2020.
Lumumba also warned residents that floodwaters could sit on the ground for several days and residents should be prepared to evacuate for up to two weeks.
State emergency management officials have already begun assessing water levels along the Pearl River and have deployed more than 100,000 sandbags, the statement said.
Officials first predicted that the Pearl River would reach 36ft and its crest by Tuesday, CNN reported earlierbut the river is now expected to crest Monday through Monday evening, emergency management officials said at a Saturday news conference.
Barnett Reservoir general manager John Sigmund warned against rising water in front of the ridge, as the water is expected to rise steadily, before slowly falling.
“It looks like we’re going to be in the flood waters that we’re still seeing today, probably through the end of the week with then a gradual recession after that,” Sigmund said.
The threat of heavy rain will be very localized on Saturday, but much of the region has seen excessive rain over the past week, so it won’t take much additional rainfall to worsen the ongoing flooding.
A flood warning remains in effect for parts of Mississippi, including Jackson around the Pearl River, until further notice. the National Weather Service said. A flood warning has also been issued for the Strong River in Simpson County through Monday.
Widespread rainfall of 1 to 2 inches is forecast for much of the region, but some locations — including along the immediate Gulf Coast and across Florida — could see up to 2 to 4 inches of rain up ‘see you Monday. The Florida Peninsula is likely to experience the heaviest rainfall throughout the weekend.
Sigmund said scattered and isolated rains during the week in the region are not expected to have a significant impact on Mississippi water levels.