40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PEARL RIVER FLOOD OF 1979

See the video below of the Flood Anniversary Press Conference. Excuse the audio difficulties.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the devastating Pearl River flood. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), along with the National Weather Service-Jackson, Hinds and Rankin County Emergency Management are providing the following recount of events as well as what can be done to prepare for flooding in the future.

Known as the ‘Easter Flood of 1979’, 35 of the state’s 82 counties were affected by floodwaters and an estimated 15,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes. Below are just some of the issues associated with the flood:
  • Heavy rain in the winter led to areas in the Pearl River basin to receive 50-150 percent of normal rainfall.
  • Nearly 15 inches of rainfall occurred in March and early April.
  • From April 11-12, the Jackson metro received 4-5 inches of rain. Other areas of the state received anywhere from 8-20 inches of rain.
  • Other river systems were adversely impacted as well – Pearl River, Big Black River, Noxubee River at Macon, Luxipallila Creek in Columbus.
These circumstances caused a rapid rise of the Pearl River. The river reached a record crest of 43.28 feet. For perspective, Flood Stage for the Pearl River is 28 feet.
The flooding resulted in one death and caused $500-$700 million in damage. Moreover, President Jimmy Carter declared 35 counties a ‘Major Disaster Area’.

While the Easter Flood is considered a 200-year flood event, it is still important to have a flood plan in place for you and your family. Population and business development have significantly increased in those impacted areas and the risk of a major flood is still very high. Here are some key things to remember:

Flood Preparedness:
  • Purchase flood insurance – If you live in a flood zone, the possibility of financial reimbursement for damages to your property may only be covered if you have flood insurance.
  • Listen to the advice and warnings of local officials and weather professionals. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Flood waters can rise quickly and leave you with no way out.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family.
  • Store important documents where they won’t be damaged.
For more information on flood preparedness, go to MEMA’s website at www.msema.org, or download the MEMA mobile app on your iOS or Android device. The best way to get up-to-date information is to “Like” MEMA on Facebook, or “Follow” us on Twitter.