Homes, highways, parks and bridges throughout the southern United States have been flooded or rendered out of commission Saturday, as the toll of days of drenching rains swelled waterways and pooled over saturated lands amid the threat of severe storms.
Interstate 40 near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina was closed due to a rockslide, one of the dozens of roads and highways shut down throughout the region, transportation officials said.
Heavy rain in north Mississippi has caused a flash flood emergency for parts of Grenada, according to the National Weather Service. https://t.co/lPzHq3viaR
— Hattiesburg American (@hburgamerican) February 22, 2019
Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi announced on Twitter that a “full scale detour” was in place, with traffic being diverted to Interstate 81 and Interstate 26.
In Bruce, Mississippi, rivers broke flood stage and flash floods poured into homes and businesses. WMC-TV reports that a local state of emergency was declared by officials in Grenada, Mississippi, after dozens of streets and homes flooded.
High water also threatened property in Tennessee, which, like many other areas of the South, has been soaked by several inches of rain over the past week. News outlets report that water rescues have been performed in some Middle Tennessee counties. Flash flood warnings and watches remained in place throughout the South.
Weather officials warned residents of the possibility of severe storms Saturday in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. Damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail were possible, the National Weather Service in Memphis reported.
Kentucky announced Friday that it was closing the U.S. 51 bridge over the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, because of flooding on the southern approach. The bridge, which carries 4,700 vehicles a day, is likely to stay closed until Thursday, and possibly longer.
The Ohio River at Cairo is predicted to crest Sunday at its third-highest level ever recorded, and stay that high into next week. The Tennessee River near Savannah, Tennessee, also is forecast to crest at near-record levels.
In North Carolina, a Catawba County building inspector said extra weight from rain is suspected to have contributed to a partial roof collapse at a child day care center in Hickory. The Hickory Daily Record reported that firefighters responded to a roof collapse at Rainbow Child Care Center on Thursday morning. There were no children at the facility at the time, and no injuries were reported.
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