Storm plods across Mississippi Valley after leaving snow on Plains
JACKSON, Miss. — Torrential rain swamped parts of the South on Thursday, flooding roads and forcing hundreds of people out of their homes. One woman died when her car was swept into a drainage ditch.
Schools in Tennessee and Mississippi sent children home early as streams and rivers continued to rise. In some areas, heavy rain and damaging winds blew through areas still cleaning up after tornadoes earlier this week.
At one point, every county in Mississippi was under some sort of flood or tornado watch and forecasters warned that rivers will rise across the region through the weekend.
Sherrie Jones, 28, died after her car was swept into a drainage ditch near Horn Lake. Several mobile homes near Lena were destroyed or damaged by high wind, said Tommy Malone of the Leake County Emergency Management Agency.
Sunflower County sheriff’s Deputy Robert Thompson said several roads were impassable near Parchman.
“It’s pretty bad and it’s still raining,” Thompson said.
In Tennessee, eight to 14 inches of rain had fallen in some areas since Wednesday night.
“Every time we get our stuff in one room and we think it’s safe, it starts leaking and we have to move it again,” said Terri Peale, whose home near the community of Paris was damaged by a tornado three days ago.
In Shelby County, Tenn., about 50 homes were evacuated because of floodwaters. About 40 other people were evacuated across the region, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee approved disaster declarations for eight counties after as much of 9 inches of rain fell between Tuesday and Thursday. Residents were using sandbags and pumps to stave off floodwaters.
In the southeastern Arkansas town of Dumas, Mayor Clay Oldner estimated that 22 homes, eight businesses and a manufacturing plant were flooded. Schools were closed and streets were under as much as 2 feet of water.
“We can take 1, 2 or 3 inches of rain, we just cannot take 12 inches of continuous rain,” Oldner said.
In West Memphis, Ark., firefighter Doug Baker said 25 to 30 homes and an apartment complex were flooded. He said more than 1,000 homes had limited access because they were surrounded by water.
“We are doing well, considering,” he said. “It could be much worse.”
Fearing high water, Ruth Idrogo turned off the natural gas in her rental house along the banks of the Little River in Christian County, Ky.
“Where are we going to go? We don’t have anyplace else to go,” she said.
Farther west, the southern Plains began to recover from the frozen rain and more than a foot of snow left behind by the same storm system.
The region’s first snowstorm of the season was blamed for hundreds of traffic accidents and at least 18 deaths in Texas and Oklahoma. Icy bridges and overpasses, and the accidents, brought the morning commute to a halt around Dallas.
The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport resumed normal operations about noon Thursday. Dozens of flights were canceled Wednesday and Thursday.
At least 9 inches of snow fell in Aspermont, Texas, about 100 miles northwest of Abilene, and Lubbock and Wichita Falls both reported several inches. Bridges were coated with ice across western Texas and some 4,000 people were without electricity after wind and ice downed power lines.