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Officials Remember the Pearl River Flood of 1979

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Officials Remember the Pearl River Flood of 1979
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Press Conference Remembering the Easter Flood of 1979
Jasmine Ellis

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the devastating Pearl River flood of 1979 , which resulted in an estimated 15,000 people evacuating their homes. Officials in Mississippi are remembering the devastating event and raising awareness for flood preparedness. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports.

"The Easter Flood of 1979" caused $500 to $700 million in damage and killed one person. And 35 of Mississippi's 82 counties were affected by the flooding. Felecia Bowser is with the National Weather Service in Jackson. She says it's important that people remember the flood event from 40 years ago.

"When you forget about something that's happened several decades ago, people tend to relax and get a little bit comfortable and maybe not even know that they're actually living in a floodplain if they're not looking at their paperwork," said Bowser. "So remembering the '79 flood is just taking an extra precaution."

Months of record flooding has left 550,000 acres of agricultural farmland underwater. Greg Michel is executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

"The events that have transpired over the last few months have been a stark reminder that these things certainly can happen again," said Michel. "So it's important that we plan and prepare and mitigate these areas to ensure that we don't have the devastation that occurred in 1979."

Ricky Moore is emergency management director in Hinds County. He says there are things that people can do ahead of time in preparation for a flooding event.

"Make sure you have homeowners insurance, flood insurance, renters insurance... that was a biggy in '79," said Moore. "Now's the time to practice your family plan... your evacuation plan. Know where you're going... know where everyone is... know what to take with you when you leave. And make sure you take care of your pets. Most evacuation centers won't take pets."

Forecasters say flash flooding is one of the top three weather related killers in the US.