https://toronto.citynews.ca/2022/08/28/residents-of-mississippis-capital-prepare-for-flooding/

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — Veronique Daniels was sleeping on her mother’s back porch in Jackson when she got wind of an impending disaster.

Residents of the state’s capital have been advised to leave as experts predict the Pearl River near Jackson will flood Monday.

“If you are capable of getting out now, get out now. Get out as soon as possible,” said Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba at a news conference Saturday, the same day Mississippi’s governor declared a state of emergency.

A natural disaster threatening displacement could not have come at a worse time for Daniels, who became homeless three months ago. On Saturday, she evacuated from her mother’s porch in Canton Club Circle, the same Jackson subdivision that flooded in 2020. Daniels and other Jackson residents are taking precautions as the memories of the floods from two years ago loom large in their memories.

In 2020, days of torrential downpours caused the Pearl River to reach 36.7 feet (11.2 meters) and Jackson homes in the hardest hit neighborhoods were filled with dirty, snake-infested flood water.

Now, experts predict the Pearl River will crest at 35.5 feet (10.8 meters) on Monday. The city estimates that 100 to 150 homes could be impacted by Monday night, Lumumba said.

The Red Cross opened a temporary shelter Friday at the Jackson Police Department Training Academy. Linda Gagliardi, a Red Cross volunteer deployed from Huntsville, Alabama, said volunteers had fielded numerous calls Sunday. She expectedd an influx of residents seeking shelter to arrive Sunday night.

“Our advice is to have a plan and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice,” said Linda Gagliardi, a Red Cross volunteer deployed from Huntsville, Alabama. “And I think that’s what people are waiting for, that moment’s notice.”

As of Sunday afternoon, Daniels was the first person to arrive at the shelter. She found out about the shelter on Facebook and had her mother drop her off Sunday morning.

As Red Cross volunteers helped Daniels finish a load of laundry, she waited for her 18-year-old daughter and an 11-month-old grandson to arrive. They had stayed with friends the previous night, but the family’s long-term plans are up on in the air.

Some Jackson residents are moving belongings out of their homes. Others are stocking up on sandbags. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has deployed 126,000 sandbags to act as water barriers in preparation for flooding.

Oscar Day, an inventory control worker at a sandbag distribution site, said Jackson residents started preparing their homes for potential flood damage earlier than in 2020.

“A lot of people took the heat last time,” Day told The Associated Press on Sunday, referring to residents who chose not to take precautions in 2020.

The Mississippi floodwaters arrive in the wake of the destruction and death visited upon Kentucky residents last month. Those floods caused at least 39 deaths and robbed thousands of families of all of their possessions. Nearly a month later, residents are wrestling with the question of whether to rebuild at the place they call home or start over somewhere else.

In Jackson, officials have not implemented a mandatory evacuation order but have said residents risk fending for themselves if they choose to stay home.

A Ridgeland police officer patrolling the grounds of the Harbor Pines Mobile Home Community on Sunday estimated that about 20% of the residents had yet to evacuate by Sunday afternoon.

He warned: “If you stay here and you get stranded, we may or may not be able to come rescue you.”

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Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.

Michael Goldberg, The Associated Press