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Even miles from swollen Mississippi, flood threat 'unprecedented'

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Evacuations in lowland areas of unincorporated Shelby County, which includes Memphis, caused rooftop flooding of trailer parks and other small communities that had the misfortune to be located amid lowlands located far from the Mississippi.

Signs that the same thing will happen far inland in Mississippi are already present. With the Mississippi River rising in Vicksburg, Miss., the Yazoo is backing up, flowing in a reverse direction, and causing floods.

Nearly 80 percent of the land in Yazoo County, a 450-square-mile area, could be underwater, officials say. If that takes place, it could not come at a worse time. Soybeans and corn are already in the ground. Cotton and rice are starting to sprout.

Backwater flooding is already seeping along the Yazoo, and Greg Flynn, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, predicts that water will overtop the levees by at least two feet as early as next week. Floodwaters are expected to crest on May 19.

“Because it is inland, we don’t typically see that kind of water rise,” Mr. Flynn says. “Anything in [the Yazoo] is just backing up.”

Although area officials are waiting to see how high the water gets, a small number of people in Yazoo City were evacuated and moved to shelters. Although a greater evacuation plan is in place, Yazoo City Police Major Andre Lloyd says, having to “prepare for a flood is really unprecedented” in the area. “We didn’t think it’d get this [amount of water]. But it is growing. It’s getting higher,” he says.

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