Flooding Tops Weather Concerns

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The National Weather Service confirmed Friday that a tornado hit Newton County during a period of severe weather Thursday.

The tornado took several trees down and traveled on the ground for nine miles, but the biggest concern now for Newton County is flooding. Heavy rain has caused the chunky river to rise about one foot per hour.

"The National Weather Service predicts 25.5 inches," said Gary Galloway, Newton County's emergency management director. "I believe they are raising their level of the crest right now maybe up to 27 feet."

Over 50 roads in Newton have been closed due to flooding. Thursday's storms damaged parts of Lauderdale County, too. Lawns turned to lakes at several houses along old 8th street road and highway 19 north. At one residence a car was covered with water.

Following last year's two floods, one homeowner says something must be done to fix the problem.

"Well, this is an act of God but this is the 21st century," said resident Jim Stephens. "We can put a man on the moon and you can't fix a little bit of flooding."

Meanwhile, Lauderdale County officials are continuing to access the damage.

"We had lots of roads flooded, very few houses," said Clarence Butler, Lauderdale County's emergency management director. "In fact, I know of just one or two houses that have water. The water is going down on the northern part of the county and moving on to the southern part of the county and we're beginning to have problems there at this time."

Butler said it does not appear that there's enough overall damage to declare a state of emergency in Lauderdale County.

Mississippi emergency management director Robert Latham said the immediate priority was to help local residents recover from the storm. He says families displaced from their homes for at least 72 hours may qualify for temporary housing assistance.

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for some areas of the state through the weekend.

The rivers being watched closely by MEMA and local officials are:

Chunky in Newton County

Chickasawhay in Clarke County

Bogue Chitto in Pike County

Pearl in Lawrence County

The Associated Press contributed to this report.