People rescued from cars and homes as torrential rain causes flash flooding in central Mississippi

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LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Torrential rain fell for several hours Thursday in central Mississippi, flooding roads, homes and businesses in Winston County and Louisville, where the mayor declared a state of emergency.

“Please do not travel anywhere in Louisville or Winston County unless it is an absolute emergency,” Mayor Will Hill said Thursday morning on Facebook. “This is not a typical flash flood and like no thing we’ve experience(d) in our area, maybe ever.”

Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh said law enforcement officers rescued at least eight people from vehicles and removed several others from homes as the water rose.

Swift water washed one car into a ditch, but the driver escaped before it submerged. The man stood knee-deep in the floodwater on top of his car as officers rescued him, Pugh told The Associated Press.

About 17,500 people live in Winston County. Louisville, the largest town, is about 95 miles (150 kilometers) northeast of Jackson.

No deaths or serious injuries had been reported in the county by the evening, the mayor said.

“We are on the opposite end of the storm now with blue skies and calm weather and the water has subsided,” Hill said. “But what we experienced was not just a 100-year flood but a 1,000-year flood. He added that 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain had fallen “in a very short time.”

The mayor said the immediate focus was on safety and he and others had just gotten a first look around the city of about 6,000. He estimated that a couple hundred homes had water damage, as well as some businesses.

He added that officials were contending with debris, drainage problems, erosion and damage to streets and homes, with some taking on about 2 feet (60 centimeters) of water.

Pugh said the last time he can recall this type of rapid rainfall in the area was in 1977, when he was a child. “There are streets in Louisville that are flooded that I’ve never seen flooded,” he said.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation issued flash flood warnings on some state highways in Winston and Neshoba counties. Roadways also flooded in nearby Choctaw and Noxubee counties, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.

Gov. Tate Reeves said on Facebook that two roads in the area were impassable and that a highway was closed because of about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of water on the road. Reeves said the county had requested a boat team, which responded.

He also said a shelter was open for residents seeking higher ground. “We’re standing ready to help support the residents there,” Reeves said.

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Cover Photo: In this image provided by Mississippi state Rep. Michael Evans, floodwaters surround a home in Louisville, Miss., Thursday, July 13, 2023. Flash flooding was also reported Thursday in Winston, Choctaw, Neshoba and Noxubee counties. (Mississippi state Rep. Michael Evans via the AP)

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