Days of Torrential Rains in Southeast Leave Swollen Rivers, Mudslides

February 14, 2020

Days of torrential rain across the Southeast left residents to deal with rising rivers, falling trees, weakened dams and mudslides Thursday as storms finally subsided.

An Alabama town asked residents to cut back on water usage after a pumping station flooded, forcing officials to shut down schools, and multiple vehicles plowed into trees that fell across a highway in Mississippi.

But with rivers and creeks out of their banks across Alabama and Mississippi, forecasters said the region should dry out some before rains return next week once storms finally move eastward out of south Georgia.

Hartselle schools canceled for the day because water from a rising creek in north Alabama flooded a water pumping station, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on Facebook. Utility officials in the town of about 14,000 people asked residents to conserve water.

“With the current flooding along the Tennessee River, TVA is doing everything to try and manage the water levels in the rivers and creeks,” said a statement from Bob Sittason of Hartselle Utilities.

Along the Mississippi River in Vickburg, Mississippi, part of the parking lot at WaterView Casino and Hotel was covered with soil and grass after a soggy hillside collapsed, but no one was hurt and the gambling hall remained open.

Near Vicksburg, one person was taken to a hospital after seven 18-wheelers and a minivan collided with two trees that fell across Interstate 20 overnight, news outlets reported.

Officials in Starkville, Mississippi, were worried that around-the-clock pumping wasn’t doing enough to relieve pressure on the rain-swollen Oktibbeha County Lake, where part of the dam collapsed in a mudslide last month.

“We encourage residents to make preparations now in the event they are required to evacuate,” county emergency management director Kristen Campanella said in a statement. “Gather important documents and have a `go bag’ readily available in the event they must leave their home quickly.”

Elsewhere, transportation officials shut down a major highway leading to Huntsville because of a crack that developed in the road after days of heavy rain. Crews were repairing both sides of U.S. 231 near Lacey’s Springs, forcing commuters to take detours.

Flood warnings cover much of north and west Alabama. Workers had to clear roads in Lawrence County after strong winds overnight knocked down trees that toppled over in saturated soil.

A flood warning for the Tennessee River at Florence, located in northwest Alabama, is in effect until Feb. 20.

Parts of central Alabama have received more than 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) of rain since Tuesday, and rainfall totals in excess of 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) were common.

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