Major state of emergency declared

Road Manager Jerry Smith updates the Leflore County Board of Supervisors about flood plans as they declare a major state of emergency for the county at a called meeting on Tuesday.

A major state of emergency has been declared for Leflore County.

District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham made the motion during a Tuesday morning called meeting of the Board of Supervisors to declare the state of emergency, which the board approved.

Jerry Smith, road manager for the county, said that the current weather patterns mimic that of last year’s flooding around the same time, and he is taking precautionary measures to try and avoid as much damage as possible.

County Attorney Joyce Chiles said that a state of emergency usually lasts 30 days.

Smith said that as of Tuesday it would be difficult to assess whether the road management team will need additional help from outside sources, since the bulk of severe weather and rainfall is expected Wednesday.

The board decided on a major state of emergency, which will permit Smith’s team and county law enforcement to receive whatever additional help they may need. It also allows them to go into areas that may be affected that they wouldn’t otherwise go into, such as private properties. However, they still need the owner of the property’s permission to intervene.

“I think we’ve got a major situation here, because where I’m at out in the country, County Road 88, is already flooded,” Abraham said. “I would make it (major) so that whatever (Smith) needs, he could do.”

The National Weather Service’s Jackson Bureau reported the Yazoo River level at 33.5 feet at noon on Tuesday. The river is expected to rise to 33.8 feet early Wednesday morning. The river’s flood stage is 35 feet.

At the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Smith said that he had 6,000 sandbags “ready to go.”

Abraham suggested that Smith try increasing the number of sandbags on hand to 10,000 at the meeting.

Smith said that they have made improvements and corrected problems they faced during last year’s flooding, such as installing floodgates to help identify and avoid problems faster.

“We’ve already got the sandbags ready and a couple of boats ready,” Smith said.

He also said that on Monday night, he and his employees went to several roads in the county that are at risk of flooding and placed flags down, so drivers can still see the sides of the road through the water.

“We’re staying on top of it,” Smith added.

Contact Kerrigan Herret at 581-7233 or kherret@gwcommonwealth.com.

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