Miss. Residents Return to Soggy Homes

Miss. Residents Return to Soggy Homes

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Residents returned to soggy, smelly homes Wednesday to begin cleaning up as floodwaters were receding around Mississippi's capital after days of misery but with more rain on the way.

Nearly 300 homes and businesses were still without power in two counties, and Entergy utility company said it was unclear when all the electricity might be restored.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday urged people to be cautious as they return to homes and businesses flooded by the Pearl River in and around Jackson. He said drivers should stay off streets that remain covered by water, and people should ensure the electrical systems are safe in buildings that were inundated.

Reeves said people are resilient in a state that has seen natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which left damage on the Gulf Coast and more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) inland.

Mississippi typically sees significant rainfall in the spring. Asked if he is concerned about more flooding with already saturated ground in coming weeks, Reeves said: "Katrina taught us that our responsibility is to plan for the worst, pray for the best and expect somewhere in between."

Some people who had been forced out of their homes for days by floodwaters threw open windows and doors to allow carpeting, furniture and floors to begin drying out. Generators hummed as crews worked in one neighborhood.

Ila and Daniel Colton's brick house, which stood in water for as many as five days, was full of wet carpet, furniture and books. The water got so high even lampshades and pictures hanging on walls were wet, and multiple homes in their neighborhood were in similar shape.

"Even though we have flood insurance, we still have a long way to go," said Ila Cotton, back home for the first time since evacuating with only a few items six days earlier.

Nearly 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) of rain has fallen this month in places across Mississippi, sending rivers out of their banks. Jackson set a record with 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) of rain Saturday.

Rain was still falling across a wide area from eastern Texas to South Carolina and flood warnings covered much of the South. The National Weather Service said as much as 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain could fall overnight across central Mississippi, causing additional flooding.

Some school systems in east Alabama delayed opening Wednesday because of heavy rains.

During the flooding in central Mississippi, some creeks and areas along the Pearl River were clogged with tree limbs, plastic bottles and other trash and debris. Reeves said his wife, Elee, will organize volunteers to help with a community cleanup.

(KR)