Dyersburg Mayor John Holden declared a State of Emergency in Dyersburg early Monday morning, after the Forked Deer River rose seven feet Sunday night.
The flood level of the Forked Deer River is 22 feet, with major flood stage estimated at 29 feet. The river's current level is 27.8 feet and rising. It is expected to crest at 29.6 feet at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, a level not seen since 1937.
First responders began evacuating residents from Southtown on Monday morning, with the Dyersburg Fire Department already performing three water rescue operations in the south Dyersburg district before a 9 a.m. meeting with emergency personnel.
Residents in the Southtown area are being asked to evacuate as soon as possible.
Although officials see no signs of distress in any levees protecting the city from the Forked Deer River, emergency responders in Dyer County have been instructed by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to prepare for the worst. Dyersburg officials are requesting residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the levees to be ready to evacuate if needed.
A TEMA representative at Monday morning's meeting reported that all West Tennessee counties have reported damage-many of them severe damage-and emergency personnel should be proactive and anticipate the worst-case scenario. With such widespread damage, it may be difficult to receive state assistance quickly.
"The river is still coming up," said Ronnie Wilson of the DCS Transportation Department. "We were able to pick students up in Southtown this morning and about an hour later, those roads were covered. In the next few days, there will be roads we will not be able to access. We don't want parents to leave their children at home, expecting the school bus to pick them up and the school bus not be able to make it there. If parents have any doubts about their roads, they should take their children to school themselves."
Parents from affected areas with children attending Holice Powell, Three Oaks or Dyer County High School may pick them up at any time this afternoon.
The DFD has begun evacuating homes in the Evansville community, as well.
Around noon on Monday, the city issued a Code Red advisory for homes in Cotton Villa neighborhood due to floodwater. During a Code Red, emergency officials begin home-to-home visits warning residents that water is on the way.
A staging area has been set up at Fire Station No. 1, located at 216 S. Church St., in downtown Dyersburg.
Residents who would like to volunteer time or their boats can go to Fire Station No. 1 and emergency personnel will inform them where help is needed. Those who need sand bags may go to Fire Station No. 1 or the parking lot adjacent to OmniTech.
Residents with questions or concerns are requested to call the city's 311 service.
The Forked Deer River reached its highest recorded level of 30.91 on January 1, 1937. The current flood is expected to match the next highest level, recorded on April 1, 1913.