Walt Grayson: Flood of 1979


 JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With the Pearl River rising to it’s third highest crest on record, and the highest it been in 37 years, many people are wondering how this flood compares to floods in the past.

The water rushing under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on Old Brandon Road just off South Jefferson Street in downtown Jackson shows us a Pearl River unlike what we usually see, but as threatening as this rush of water is, it is taken more as a curiosity by people walking out on the bridge to get a first hand look at it.

This is a bridge I’d never walk on in normal circumstances when the traffic isn’t blockaded off of it- and shouldn’t be walking on today according to the Flowood Police. But I can understand wanting to get a mental souvenir of the 2020 flood.

“A lot of fast moving water. (Yea?) Yes. And the trees are shaking. And the trees are shaking a good little bit in the water, sure are,” said one neighbor.

But this is a far cry from what the river did in 1979. Just downtown, the Pearl River climbed out of its banks just north of the Fortification Street overpass. Everything that you can see from the hill behind the Old Capitol- fairgrounds, coliseum, all of the businesses, the roads, were flooded. I-55 in front of downtown was underwater for a couple of weeks. Hinds County Supervisor Credell Calhoun remembers.

Credell Calhoun, Supervisor Dist. 3 Hinds County said, “The Coliseum and the substation on Jefferson Street is where I was working sandbagging in ’79 trying to save the substation so that downtown Jackson wouldn’t go dark. (And y’all saved it.) We did. We did.”

And one thing Mr. Calhoun says we seemed to have learned from the 79 and 83 floods is- we didn’t learn much from them.

“For some reason we had not been able to do anything in 40 years to solve the problem- flooding in the city of Jackson. Hopefully with this flood we can get some movement,” said Calhoun.

Thank goodness we’re not looking at a flood of ’79 or even a flood of 1983 for that matter. But if you get water in your house, you get water in your house. It doesn’t matter what year it is.

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