JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Rankin County Emergency Management Director Mike Word has a map in his hallway that shows the areas affected by the Great Flood of 1979 overlaid on what the county looks like now in 2020.
“Topography has changed, most of this was agriculturally zoned back then and now we’ve got subdivisions and housetops and businesses and things of that nature that are closer to the river,” Word said.
What that means, Word said, is that if there was ever the same amount of flooding, it would put most of Lakeland Drive and Flowood, down to Florence and Richland, as well as southern parts of the county underwater.
“Obviously if we had another ’79 flood, this would be catastrophic, not only for the people in Hinds County but for us here in Rankin County and downstream as well,” he said.
In Hinds County, Ricky Moore agrees that the water is his biggest concern. The river is set to crest between 35 and 36 feet this week, and that will definitely affect many of the flood prone areas of his county.
“They’re looking at that 35 to 35 and a half foot river for Saturday but what we’re looking at for tonight is flash flooding, then early next week we’ll be looking at what that storm system does as far as the river,” Moore said.
He has a map that highlights the river areas prone to flooding and keeps up with the levels in real time. While there are 250 emergency responders in the county ready to be deployed if there’s need there, some of his resources of course are dedicated to the areas in Jackson that flood so consistently.
“So we’ve loaned them a smaller boat (or are going to loan them a smaller boat) where they can walk in and take some people out of the flooded homes if they need to," Moore said. "We’ve also got high water vehicles stationed in and around the city if they need help with high water vehicles.”
Authorities also say with the ground so saturated, high winds could easily knock trees and power poles down.