Authorities in Mississippi were bracing Sunday for the possibility of catastrophic flooding in and around the state capital of Jackson as water levels rise precipitously in a river swollen by days of torrential rain.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Saturday to amass the resources necessary to cope with the cresting of the Pearl River, which runs in the area around Jackson. The river is expected to crest at 38 feet (11.6 meters) Sunday evening. A mandatory evacuation was in place for affected areas.
Parts of Jackson and suburban Ridgeland were under evacuation orders. Reeves said Saturday that more than 2,400 homes and other structures in and near Jackson could either be inundated or isolated by the rising waters.
Late Saturday, the city of Jackson said via Twitter that water from the Ross Barnette Reservoir was being released to cope with the rising river levels and that residents in northeastern Jackson who live in the flood zone should leave immediately.
“Roads will become impassable by morning,” the city said in a tweet.
Officials were bracing for what could be the worst flooding in Jackson since 1983. The National Weather Service in Jackson said the Pearl River crested at 43.2 feet on April 17, 1979 — its highest level. The second-highest level occurred May 5, 1983, when the river got up to 39.58 feet.
The National Weather Service said that the river was at 36 feet at 7:15 p.m. Saturday.