County officials issue mandatory evacuation for Eagle Lake area

Published 8:06 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

Warren County officials have declared a mandatory evacuation of the Eagle Lake community effective immediately, urging residents to leave as rising floodwaters inundate roadways and cut off the rural area.

Three members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors — District 5 Supervisor Richard George, District 2 Supervisor William Banks and District 4 Supervisor John Carlisle — met with county emergency management director John Elfer and Sheriff Martin Pace during a special work session meeting Friday morning before officially ratifying the mandatory evacuation declaration in their board room Friday afternoon. District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon was at the official meeting in which the vote was unanimous. District 1 Supervisor John Arnold was not in attendance.

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The Yazoo Backwater Levee protects thousands of square miles of the Mississippi Delta region from even worse flooding by the Mississippi River. But when officials close a floodgate keeping out the big river, water draining from the north has nowhere to go, rising inside the levee.

According to Elfer, the backwater area is expected to crest above 97 feet, but more expected rainfall this weekend and next week could increase that crest.

The county had a similar mandatory evacuation during the 2011 flood event, but officials believe this flood could be worse due to the forecast amount of rainfall expected in the coming days. Residents are not forced to leave during the mandatory evacuation, but officials want to make it clear emergency services will be limited in their response.

“This is a direct result of the possibility for roadways in that area, including portions of Eagle Lakeshore Road and additional portions of Highway 465, to become flooded resulting in road closures and difficult access to portions of Eagle Lake,” Elfer said.

“This is potentially a life/safety issue,” Elfer told the board. “If they choose to stay, they need to realize emergency services will be limited.”

George said officials do not want to give residents of the area who decide to stay a false sense of security.

“It could only take one significant frog-choker rainfall event to the north and the folks who choose to stay will be looking for an ark,” George said. “They do not need to be fooling around waiting to leave from out there.”

Pace told the board Warren County deputies will remain on patrol 24/7 in the Eagle Lake community to provide safety and law enforcement.

The county and emergency management have a plan to provide a fuel storage tank for deputies to use in order to continue to patrol in the event the area is cut off completely by the floodwater.

Residents who plan to leave are reminded to shut off their meter water valve before evacuating.

Officials say approximately 500 people live or have homes in the Eagle Lake community.