Water surrounds Mississippi town as rivers rise across South

Herman Brown fishes in the flooded lands off of LeTourneau Road in Vicksburg, Miss., Wednesday February 27, 2019.
(Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post via AP)

Many Southern communities could face weeks of flooding, along with other disruptions, as recent rains have sent many streams over their banks.

In one Mississippi Delta hamlet, the mayor says  has cut off all but one road into the town and forced some residents to flee. Runoff is pooling behind a Mississippi levee and could cause record flooding. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a spillway to relieve pressure on New Orleans.

Nearly the entire state of Tennessee has seen 10-20 inches (25-51 centimeters) of rain this month, the National Weather Service said. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is building temporary lanes on Interstate 24 near Nashville after a landslide closed the highway’s eastbound lanes Saturday. Authorities Wednesday estimated 800-900 homes flooded in and around Knoxville.

The Tennessee River was cresting Wednesday at Perryville, Tennessee, at the third-highest level ever, with waters predicted to fall gradually. Many riverside buildings are submerged in a string of small towns, and drinking water is cut off in a few areas.

“People are going to be shell-shocked when the water recedes,” Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis told the Jackson Sun.

The Ohio River is predicted to crest this weekend at Cairo, Illinois, also at the third-highest level ever. But the flow is far from over downriver, with crests at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and below unlikely until the middle of March.

In Glendora, Mississippi, the town of 151 people was caught between the flooded Tallahatchie River and Black Bayou. Water is within inches of covering U.S. 49, the only unflooded route into town.

Mayor Johnny B. Thomas told The Associated Press that 12-15 houses in the small Delta town are flooded. A shelter is open, although Thomas said many people are trying to stay home.

The water has receded an inch or two. Thomas said, but National Weather Service forecasters are warning of more rain over the weekend.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” he said. Thomas said. “I’m surrounded with water under my house.”

Some of that water is pooling up against a closed Mississippi River levee and could cause a 75-mile-long flood in the Mississippi Delta. Mississippi Levee Board Chief Engineer Peter Nimrod said Wednesday that water inside the Yazoo Backwater Levee could reach the highest levels since the levee was completed in 1978.

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