GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Historic levels of flooding in the Jackson area have created a state of emergency in Mississippi. That means the American Red Cross is now providing disaster assistance.
Volunteers from the coast are in the affected area and preparing to deploy if flooding conditions impact parts of South Mississippi.
With neighborhoods around central Mississippi under siege by flood waters spilling over the banks of the Pearl River, the American Red Cross is on the scene providing disaster assistance.
Executive Director of the Southeast Mississippi Chapter of the Red Cross John McFarland has deployed staff and volunteers from the coast to the hardest-hit areas.
“Most of them are doing sheltering and feeding. We also have people doing damage assessments. That’s something we’ve got to do is go out a look at every home that’s impacted and determine the extent of damage, whether major or minor, and that tells us what kind of long term assistance is needed,” McFarland said.
Officials expect the Pearl River to crest as its highest point in more than 35 years. While the emphasis is on immediate needs, the Red Cross knows the disaster is going to intensify as the water rises then recedes, revealing the true extent of the damage.
The Red Cross has agreements with an array of agencies and volunteer groups, all ready to respond when the call for help goes out.
“At this point, most of them are in a waiting stage. Hundreds of families have had to evacuate. There could be thousands, depending on how high the water goes,” said McFarland.
The Red Cross and Emergency Managers in the state are watching the domino effect of the Pearl and other rivers flowing south and the potential for more rain in the forecast, that means the Southeast Chapter has to plan ahead with communities in Pearl River County in the crosshairs as early as this week.
“We’re concerned that we may see action in our own backyard and that’s what you have to be ready for,” McFarland said.
The River is expected to crest at moderate flood stage near Bogalusa and major flood stage near Pearl River later this week.