Torrential rains leave rising rivers, downed trees in much of South
Miss., Ala. and Ky. may face more bad weather next week
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Days of torrential rain in much of the South left residents to deal with rising rivers, falling trees, weakened dams and mudslides Thursday as storms finally subsided.
An Alabama town asked residents to use less water 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.
Schools in Hartselle, Ala., were closed for the day because water from a rising creek in north Alabama flooded a pumping station, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook. Utility officials in the town of about 14,000 people asked residents to conserve water but lifted the request once the problem was fixed.
Along the Mississippi River in Vickburg, Miss., 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, Miss., were worried that around-the-clock pumping wasn’t doing enough to relieve pressure on the rainswollen Oktibbeha County Lake, where part of the dam collapsed in a mudslide last month. Water in the reservoir was rising, and tarps and sandbags used to stabilize the dam had moved because of erosion, requiring repairs, officials said.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned of additional rains for the southeastern part of the state after flooding last week that officials said was the worst since the late 1970s. There were about 100 search and rescue operations in 10 counties during the flooding, Beshear said.
“More rain is coming,” Beshear said.
Elsewhere, Alabama transportation officials closed a major highway leading to Huntsville because of a crack that developed in the road after days of heavy rain. Crews were repairing U.S. 231 near Lacey’s Springs, forcing detours.
Students stayed home from school Thursday and several businesses were closed in parts of the upper Midwest as arctic air pushed wind chill readings to dangerous lows.
A wind chill warning was in effect for northeastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota, with wind chill readings plunging to more than 40 below zero in some areas. The National Weather Service urged people to limit time outdoors and bundle up, as exposed skin could be subject to frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.
It’s possible that at least one death could be attributed to the cold. Police in Omaha, Neb., said they found the body of Robert Freymuller, 80, early Thursday in a street not far from the assisted-living center where he lived. His death is being investigated, but police said he was not dressed for the weather; the wind chill was minus 26 degrees.
In Minnesota, the coldest wind chill reading was in Fosston, in the northwestern part of the state, at 48 degrees below.
Crews work to replace drainage pipes at the Oktibbeha County Lake dam in Starkville, Miss., as heavy rains caused water levels to rise. Tarps and sandbags used to stabilize the dam also required repairs because of erosion.