Heavy rain has bought severe flooding to parts of Mississippi and Tennessee, leaving up to 1,000 homes flooded across the two states as officials caution that more rain is expected in the coming days.
During a Monday press conference, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said that the Pearl River — which runs through multiple towns in Miss. including Jackson, Pearl and Flowood — had crested at 36.7 feet, just above its major flood level, which is 36 feet. It’s the highest level of flooding recorded in over 35 years.
That level has not changed for a few hours and, although Gov. Reeves says that’s a good sign, he wants residents to remain alert. “We as a state are not in the clear yet,” Governor Reeves said at the press conference. “We do anticipate more heavy rainfall for this region.”
He added that officials expect the water levels to recede over the next two to three days. Still, residents should continue to pay attention to evacuations orders, he added, and not return to affected areas until they are notified that it is safe. The floods have impacted up to 3,000 people.
According to the National Weather Service, one to two inches of rain is expected to impact the region from Tuesday to Thursday, which could lead to areas of flash flooding and worsen the flooding of the river.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the Hardin County Fire Department released a video showing homes in Savannah, a town just below the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Pickwick Reservoir, with water up to the rooftops.
“It absolutely kills you, knowing that houses are getting destroyed downstream from the dam,” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson told The Associated Press. “We have engineers on duty 24-7 trying to figure out what’s the most effective way to move this water downstream with the least impact.”
On Saturday, Governor Reeves had declared a state of emergency amid flooding in parts of Jackson and central Mississippi. There are no reports of flood-related injuries or deaths, though numerous search and rescue missions have been undertaken.
Water from the Barnett Reservoir near Jackson was released by officials on Saturday night to help control the water levels. On Sunday, Governor Reeves said the inflow and outflow from the reservoir had equalized, according to the Associated Press.
Some Jackson, Miss. residents used kayaks, canoes and small fishing boats to check on their homes and assist other neighbors, the AP said.
Ricky Irby, a business in Jackson, said that people in the area had not been prepared for flooding of this level.
“It’s been 40 years since we had a flood. So we never anticipated this,” Irby told NBC affiliate WLBT. “We’ve been here for 15 years, a family-owned business and this is just one of the bumps in the road we’ve got to deal with”.
The Pearl Rover’s highest recorded crest was 43 feet in 1979. The second-highest level was 39 feet in 1983.