Thrift store

Rapid rainfall floods buildings and highways in the Deep South

Rainwater covers Bierdeman Road in Pearl, Mississippi, Wednesday. Pastor Bryant May via AP

PEARL, Mississippi – Large fans hummed loudly on Thursday to try to dry the carpet at the Exchange Church, a day after storms quickly dumped several inches of rain and pushed water into the brick building of a floor in central Mississippi.

Bryant May is the senior pastor of the Southern Baptist congregation in the Jackson suburb of Pearl. He said it was the second time in four years that the church had been flooded. The church will hold online services this weekend, and May said he hopes the building will be up and running soon after.

“The good news is that we have a bit of experience – it’s good news or bad news – so we have a little game plan on how to attack him,” May said on Thursday.

Weather radar showed heavy rain Thursday in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Multiple flash flood warnings have been issued and the Mississippi Department of Transportation on Thursday reported water covering highways from the central part of the state to the Gulf Coast. Flowing water washed out part of a state highway in rural Newton County between Jackson and Meridian.

The National Weather Service has predicted that the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi, will peak early next week around the level it reached during the 2020 floods. Emergency officials said low-lying area residents near the river should prepare for the possibility of evacuation in the next few days.

After Wednesday’s deluge caused streams to overflow, law enforcement hauled toddlers out of a flooded daycare center in Florence, Mississippi, south of Jackson. The Rankin County Sheriff’s Department posted a video on Facebook of deputies walking through knee-deep brown water to lift the children into an elevated truck, gently placing them on benches.

Rankin County sheriff’s deputies also helped move more than 40 residents from a flooded retirement home Wednesday in nearby Brandon.

Tony Banks said Thursday that when he returned to his apartment in the Jackson suburb of Flowood after work on Wednesday, the parking lot was knee-deep in water. He said a creek overflowed, flooding cars and trucks. Banks said he caught a fish near the vehicles.

“He was walking around the parking lot and I grabbed his mouth,” Banks, 35, said. He said he threw the bass in the water.

In Alabama, vehicles traveling on flooded roads created boat-like wakes on low Dauphin Island, a popular beach community off the coast, but police said the water was not deep enough Thursday morning to pose a major threat. Flooding was likely in southwest Alabama until after dark, forecasters said, and Mississippi temporarily closed a docking station on Interstate 10 due to flooding.

A few schools around Mobile, Alabama were closed prematurely due to flooding or power outages. The National Weather Service said rain was falling at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour along the coast and roads and parking lots were flooded in Foley, on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay.

Joy Lester owns a thrift store in Pearl, Mississippi, near The Exchange Church. She said she will have to throw out most of the sofas, dining sets and stock that were soaked in the floods.

“It’s all a mess. It’s gotta go,” Lester said as she surveyed the damage Thursday.

Three Mississippi cities set single-day rainfall records Wednesday, the weather service said. Jackson received just over 5 inches, Meridian received 4.6 inches and Vicksburg received 2.9 inches.

On Wednesday, Jackson also surpassed his previous August rainfall record of 11.57 inches.

The previous high for the month was 11.51 inches in 2008, the weather service said.

The National Weather Service said flooding was expected near several rivers in central and southern Mississippi. The Pearl River was above flood stage in the Jackson area Thursday and is expected to continue to rise. This means streams and streams cannot flow into the river and the water could threaten homes and businesses.

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