Mississippi residents brace for flood as river reaches crest

An SUV rests in flood waters in this northeast Jackson, Miss., neighborhood, Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. Flooding affected a number neighborhoods that are near the Pearl River. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — People in and around Mississippi’s capital city were bracing for possible flooding Monday as the Pearl River approached a crest after last week’s heavy rainfall.

Officials said about 100 to 150 homes in the Jackson area could be affected by Monday night. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said on Twitter that the river was predicted to crest at 35.5 feet (10.8 meters). The agency said that would just avoid hitting the major flood stage level of 36 feet (10.97 meters).

“Roads are still flooded. We ask that you don’t return home until your local officials say it’s safe to do so,” the agency said.

Some Jackson residents started moving furniture and appliances out of their homes late last week. Others stocked up on sandbags. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency had deployed 126,000 sandbags to act as water barriers in preparation for flooding.

A bridge crossing the Pearl River near downtown Jackson was closed as the water level rose. Trees were partly submerged and power lines shook in the strong current Monday. Soccer fields in northeast Jackson were covered with several inches of water, where geese floated. In nearby neighborhoods, some vehicles were partially submerged.

Two years ago, torrential downpours caused the Pearl River to reach 36.7 feet (11.2 meters) and Jackson homes in the hardest-hit neighborhoods were filled with dirty, snake-infested floodwaters.

Oscar Day, an inventory control worker at a sandbag distribution site, said Jackson residents started preparing their homes for potential flood damage earlier than in 2020.

“A lot of people took the heat last time,” Day said Sunday.

The Red Cross opened a temporary shelter at the Jackson Police Department Training Academy.

The Mississippi floodwaters arrive after severe flooding caused death and destruction in Kentucky last month. Those floods left at least 39 dead and robbed thousands of families of all of their possessions. Nearly a month later, residents are wrestling with whether to rebuild at the place they call home or to start over somewhere else.