People rescued from cars and homes as rapid rainfall causes flash flooding in central Mississippi
Jul 13, 2023, 10:46 AM
LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Torrential rain fell for several hours Thursday in central Mississippi, flooding roads, homes and businesses in Winston County and Louisville, where the mayor declared a state of emergency.
“Please do not travel anywhere in Louisville or Winston County unless it is an absolute emergency,” Mayor Will Hill said on Facebook. “This is not a typical flash flood and like no thing we’ve experience(d) in our area, maybe ever.”
Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh said law enforcement officers rescued three people from vehicles and removed several others from homes as the water rose.
Swift water washed one car into a ditch, and the driver escaped before the car submerged. The man stood knee-deep in the floodwater on top of his car as officers rescued him, Pugh told The Associated Press.
About 17,500 people live in Winston County. The largest town, Louisville, is about 95 miles (153 kilometers) northeast of Jackson.
No deaths or serious injuries were reported in the county within the first six hours of the heavy rainfall, which started about 6 a.m., the sheriff said.
“We’re urging our residents not to travel unless absolutely necessary,” Pugh said. “We’re going to have a lot of roads washed out after this has receded.”
The mayor said the focus Thursday would be on people’s safety and that damage would be looked at later.
“We (City and County) have declared a State of Emergency and we will look at damages after the storm,” Hill’s Facebook post said. ”Repeat, it’s life safety first and then we will work on damages and especially Street and roadway closures. Be smart, be safe, and pray for Louisville and Winston County as a whole.”
Pugh said the last time he can recall this type of rapid rainfall in the area was in 1977, when he was a child. “There are streets in Louisville that are flooded that I’ve never seen flooded,” he said.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation issued flash flood warnings on some state highways in Winston and Neshoba counties. Roadways were also flooded in nearby Choctaw and Noxubee counties, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.
Gov. Tate Reeves said on Facebook that at least two roads in the area were impassable and that a highway was closed because of about 5 inches of water on the road. Reeves said the county had requested a boat team, which was responding.
He also said a shelter was open for residents seeking higher ground. “We’re standing ready to help support the residents there as the situation develops,” Reeves said.
Parts of central Mississippi could receive up to 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) of rain Thursday, the National Weather Service said.