HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Emergency management officials in Marion County are keeping a close eye on the Pearl River this week. Forecasts show the river is expected to reach flood stage by the end of the week as water drains away from the Jackson area.
The capital city has been dealing with historic flooding from the Pearl River since late last week. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday morning the river has likely crested at 36.7 feet and water levels should drop over the next few days.
“We as a state are not in the clear yet,” Reeves said during a news conference Monday.
As more water moves downriver, the flood threat shifts to cities and counties south of Jackson.
“As the flood waters move, we begin to look downriver at Copiah County, Simpson County, Lawrence County, Jeff Davis County, Marion County, Pearl River County and Hancock County,” Reeves said.
Reeves said there is a possibility for flooding in Marion County and Columbia later this week. In addition to the water moving down from Jackson, forecasts show another 2 to 3 inches of rain could fall in the region by Thursday.
“We do anticipate that there will be potential flooding in and around Marion County, specifically in the City of Columbia, potentially, depending upon what the river does over the next couple of days,” Reeves said.
WDAM spoke with Columbia Mayor Justin McKenzie after he was briefed by county emergency management on the potential flooding.
“As the river continues to rise, it will back up the drainage system,” McKenzie said.
“With expectation of rainfall Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you know that could have some impact on some localized flash flooding in our downtown area and perhaps throughout some of the areas of town, some street flooding,” McKenzie added.
If you plan to evacuate, bremember to remove materials outside that could become a problem for someone else.
McKenzie stressed that residents prone to flooding should not take this flood lightly.
“If you see water crossing the road, I know you hear the term “turn around, don’t drown,” take that seriously,” McKenzie said. "Don’t become a problem because you tried to go through water and now you’re putting not only yourself at risk, but you’re going to put first responders at risk.
Reeves said state and local agencies are working together to create a response plan for any areas impacted by flooding. He encouraged Mississippians to stay aware and heed any weather warnings as they are issued.
WDAM has a news crew in Marion County to get the latest on flooding preparations. We will update this story with more details from officials as we get them.