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Pearl River crests at 36.7 feet as agencies begin to move into recovery mode

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Gov. Tate Reeves and MEMA Executive Director Gregory Michel addressed the public at a press conference Monday, Feb. 17. (photo via screen grab of live event)

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves this morning praised the people of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies for their response to the Pearl River flooding.

The river crested Monday morning at 36.7 feet, Reeves said at a press conference.

At under 37 feet, the crest is more than a foot less than the expected crest of 38 feet. Nonetheless, some areas in Northeast Jackson and Rankin County reported a 38-foot river in the Highway 25/Lakeland Drive area north to the Ross Barnett Reservoir dam.

The governor also gave praise to the people of Jackson who heeded the flood warnings. With a total of 16 rescues and no reported injuries, Reeves indicated that the situation could have been far worse if people had ignored those warnings. Last night, 24 people stayed at the Jackson shelter.

About 1,500 homes and businesses near the Pearl are still inundated or are threatening to flood this morning.

“All immediate needs and immediate requests are being fulfilled,” Reeves said, as area agencies begin to move from disaster response to recovery.

MEMA Executive Director Gregory Michel said it’s vital now that MEMA can gather as much data as possible to update its flood maps. The area has seen a good deal of construction in the Pearl’s flood plain since the last big flood in 1983, making it vital that the data is updated accurately to prepare for future flood events.

“As we move into the current phase into recovery, accurate data will be critical,” Michel said.

“Residents can self-report,“ through tool on the MEMA website, Reeves said, and Michel reiterated the importance of affected residents reporting damage including submitting photos.

Although the floodwater is expected to recede quickly, Reeves also emphasized that this is not the time to return to flooded homes.

“We, as a state, are not in the clear, yet,” the governor said, adding, “This is not the time to run back to your house,” until authorities give the OK to do so.

It’s likely that there will be infrastructure damage to area roads, pipes and other systems as well. Electricity has been cut off to homes affected by floodwaters.

As the water moves downstream, counties to the south are on alert and preparing their emergency responses. Of special concern is the City of Columbia in Marion County, Reeves said.

Reeves also emphasized that people should not play, drive or walk through flooded areas. “We strongly discourage anyone from getting in or driving in the water,” Reeves said, saying that the water could have strong currents and that it’s not “100 percent clean.”

“Do not play in the water,” he said. “Do not allow your kids to play in the water.”

“As always safety and security are the first priority,” Michel added.

News

City says gas smell poses no danger

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(Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay)

Numerous Vicksburg residents have reported a strong odor similar to natural gas in the city.

City officials say the smell is apparently due to a release on the harbor, and that it poses no danger.

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News

Update on the woman connected to high speed chase and crash

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The end of the chase. (Photo by David Day)

The high speed chase and crash that began at the Waffle House on Pemberton Square Boulevard in Vicksburg Saturday night originated with a domestic dispute.

The driver of the rented Nissan Rogue that eventually crashed and burned, Bonjara O’Quin, and his unnamed passenger were arguing for some time on Saturday.

One Vicksburg Daily News reader said they noticed them on the Natchez Trace earlier in the day. O’Quin was walking down the road and the female was driving slowly next to him trying to convince him to get back in the SUV. His distinctive pink shoes are what made our reader link the couple to this story.

Later in the day, the couple’s disagreement escalated, and a caller to 911 described a “rolling disturbance” in a blue SUV with Illinois plates near the Waffle House on Pemberton. Officer Michael Battle went to that scene but didn’t see the suspect vehicle. Shortly thereafter another call came into the 911 call center that the vehicle fitting that description was involved in a physical altercation at the Shell located at 4747 U.S. Highway 61 South. The man in the SUV was pulling a pregnant female from the vehicle by her hair.

The Shell Food Mart, 4747 U.S. 61 South. (photo by David Day)

Officer Battle drove to the scene with his lights and siren on, and O’Quin fled south on U.S 61. Battle immediately reported the blue SUV was not responding to his blue lights and siren and was accelerating away from the marked unit. Battle radioed the chase in and the channel was cleared of other traffic so Battle could report at will. The Mississippi Highway Patrol was notified and several units responded. As the chase continued south with speeds in excess of 100 mph, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the call.

O’Quin lost control of the vehicle as he attempted to turn west onto Shiloh Road just inside Claiborne County resulting in a fiery wreck. He received minor injuries and was treated and released to police custody.

U.S. Highway 61 South where it meets Shiloh Road in Claiborne County.

The unidentified female was treated by a Vicksburg Fire/Medic unit and refused further medical care or transportation to Merit Health River Region.

Bonjara O’Quin and an unidentified law enforcement officer. (Photo by David Day)

O’Quin has been charged with domestic violence and felony elude.

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Events

Mississippi Boy Choir’s annual Christmas Concert will be online Friday

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(photo from MBC Facebook page)

The Mississippi Boy Choir will present its annual Christmas Concert virtually this year, meaning everyone can enjoy the choir for free.

The concert is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the choir’s website from the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

2020 marks the 26th season for the choir, which stems from a 1,500-year-old tradition of boys singing in the great cathedrals of Western Europe. The organization has two choirs: a training choir that consists of young boys in second grade up whose voices have not changed, and a concert choir with both changed and unchanged voices. The concert choir generally consists of boys from the fifth through the 12th grade.

The Vicksburg branch of the Mississippi Boy Choir meets on Mondays at the Church of the Holy Trinity on South Street.

Friday’s performance is funded by the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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