‘Get out now’: Mayor urges residents to flee as Mississippi river rises

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba urged residents to “get out now” at a press conference on Saturday.

Authorities had previously predicted the Pearl River would rise to 36ft and peak on Tuesday after record rainfall in recent days, but the river is now expected to peak late Sunday evening through Monday evening before slowly declining.

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 .

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

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said a emergency state Saturday due to rising river waters 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, the statement said.

“Mississippi State is as prepared as it can be for this flood,” Reeves said. “My administration, including (the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency), is closely monitoring this situation and working actively to respond as quickly as possible to ongoing developments with the flooding.”

Medical student Emily Davis, left, talks to her landlord Suzannah Thames on Friday as workers move furniture, appliances and other belongings out of a home Davis and her husband are renting in an area floodplain of Jackson, Mississippi.
It wouldn’t be the first time the river had reached such a high level. Several neighborhoods in northeast and downtown Jackson were flooded and the Pearl River reached its third highest crest on record at 36.7 feet during a major flood in February 2020.

Authorities are warning that communities affected by flooding in 2020 are very likely to be affected again. “Residents of these affected areas should be ready to leave within 48 hours,” Lumumba said on Saturday.

The mayor warned residents that floodwaters could sit on the ground for several days and that residents should be prepared to stay away from their homes for up to two weeks.

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

In Ridgeland, Mississippi, just north of Jackson, residents who had to evacuate during the 2020 floods found themselves packing their bags.

“I hope it doesn’t turn out badly. That’s all we’re praying for,” said Ridgeland resident Krystal Ferguson. CNN WAPT Affiliate. She said her family ended up staying in a hotel for five days during the 2020 floods.
Flooding from heavy rains that have hit the region in recent days is seen near the downtown capital of Jackson, Mississippi, Wednesday.

Mayor: Don’t put yourself in danger.

This week a slow weather system flooded parts of the South, triggering flash floods in the Mississippi that forced evacuations, washed out roads, derailed a train, slid into homes and prompted numerous rescues.

After heavy rain Saturday morning, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District increased the flow of Barnett Reservoir to 60,000 cubic feet per second, a move the district says will put water on the streets of Jackson.

A train is derailed and roads are washed out by torrential rains in parts of Mississippi
“Water will be on several streets in Jackson and may begin to approach some homes and businesses,” water district officials said in a statement. Press release Saturday morning. “It is likely that the flow could be increased again within the next 24 hours, which could lead to water entering homes.”

The threat of flooding will be limited to localized areas on Sunday as slow-moving thunderstorms reform through the day, according to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Scattered thunderstorms could produce an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain by Sunday evening, mostly south of Interstate 20.

Hot and humid conditions will persist, with highs in the mid to high 80s.

Jackson’s mayor urged residents to stay away from flooded areas.

“We don’t need tourists, and we don’t need you putting yourself or those helping in the rescue efforts at risk,” Lumumba said.

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