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The Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi, reached its third-highest crest on record as flooding impacted homes and businesses. Hundreds of residents have fled Jackson ahead of potentially historic flooding of the Pearl River.

Hundreds of homes have been damaged by the flood. The number may increase to at least 1,000 said Malary White with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

After the Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Saturday, law enforcement officers went door to door urging at least 510 people to leave their homes, Reeves said Sunday.

“This is a historic, unprecedented flood,” Reeves tweeted on Saturday.

Over the weekend, business owners in downtown Jackson said they had not seen the water rise so high in decades.

“It’s been 40 years since we had a flood. So we never anticipated this,” said Ricky Irby, owner of Capital City Motors. “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 river is currently cresting at 36.7 feet.

The river’s highest level on record is 43.3 feet, set in April 1979. The next highest level was 39.6 feet, set in May 1983.

A near-record rainy winter has forced authorities to release water from swollen reservoirs, potentially worsening the flooding for those living downstream.

“It is a chess match we’re playing with Mother Nature,” said Jim Hopson, spokesperson for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The swollen river in Mississippi’s capital city crested Monday at the highest level it has been in decades as the state’s governor warned the danger has not subsided, with more rain in the forecast.

Localized flooding continues near the Highway 80 area.

The river is not expected to drop below major flood stage until sometime Wednesday.

Emergency officials said they have taken part in 16 search-and-rescue operations across the state.

Several neighborhoods in northeast and downtown Jackson, the state’s capital, were evacuated.

Four injuries had been reported in Grenada County due to hydroplaning.

“We don’t anticipate the situation to end any time soon. It will be days before we are out of the woods and the water starts to recede,” Reeves said Sunday.

Hinds County and Jackson emergency officials urged parents to keep their children out of the water.

“There’s a lot of contamination, a lot of sewage. It’s not safe. There’s a lot of swift water, a lot of unknowns. We don’t need a tragedy out of this,” said Hinds County Emergency Management Director Ricky Moore.

More rain is expected to push into the Southeast again this week, with a swath of 2 to 4 inches of rain expected from Texas to Georgia, with locally higher amounts.

In one Jackson neighborhood, residents paddled canoes, kayaks, and small fishing boats to check on their houses on Sunday after being evacuated.

Floodwaters could be seen lapping at mailboxes, street signs, and cars that had been left in driveways. One to two feet of water was also seeping into homes on Monday morning.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has advised that nearly 2,400 structures across the three Mississippi counties closest to the Pearl River and its Barnett Reservoir — Hinds, Rankin and Madison — could get water indoors or be surrounded by floods.

As waters have risen, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said power had been shut off to 504 residences as a safety precaution, and about 30 people were at a shelter.

On Saturday night, officials released water from the nearby Barnett Reservoir to control its levels. They urged residents in northeastern Jackson who live in the flood zone downstream from the reservoir to leave immediately. By Sunday morning, Reeves said the reservoir’s inflow and outflow had equalized. Residents who live in the evacuation area had several feet of water after the reservoir was released.

Reeves told reporters on Monday the state’s department of transportation has reopened lanes on Interstate 55 closed by flooding, but that motorists should be careful for changing conditions. He advised people to “turn around, don’t drown” if coming across floodwaters.

The flooding now impacting the Jackson area was spawned by days and days of heavy rain earlier this month. Besides the flooding in Mississippi, a landslide was reported in Tennessee due to a hillside weakened by rain.

Once the Pearl River crested Monday, officials said it will take the water at least three to four days to go down significantly. Part of the reason is that forecasters expect more rain between midday Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

River flooding is expected to continue throughout Mississippi over the next several days.

Dramatic video posted by a Tennessee fire department showed the impact near Savannah: Two houses tumbled down a bluff over the Tennessee River, while many others have been swamped to their rooftops, as entire neighborhoods disappear in muddy water below the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Pickwick Reservoir.

Dozens of other homes in more low-lying areas were swamped, the department’s drone video showed.

“It absolutely kills you, knowing that” houses are getting destroyed downstream from the dam, the TVA’s Hopson told on Monday. “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. They feel it. I feel it.”

February’s rains have been “400 percent of normal, and we have more coming in this week. It’s kind of a never-ending battle,” Hopson added.

The Pickwick is the next-to-last dam in the TVA’s system, and all the water from a river basin stretching into Virginia and Georgia has to flow through it before reaching the Ohio River and then the Mississippi. Water levels behind upstream tributary dams used to contain the flooding have risen as much as 40 feet this month, but even then, the Pickwick was releasing 2.36 million gallons per second Monday, down only slightly from 2.5 million gallons per second Sunday night, Hopson said.

The governor said more than 96,000 sandbags had been delivered to homes in the city and surrounding areas.


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