242 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI FLOOD OF 1979 The most devastating and costly flood to ever occur in Mississippi was the 1979 Easter flood. The damages were equal to $1.63 billion in current dollars. On April 11, 1979, heavy thunderstorms moved into western Mississippi and lasted for thirty-six hours. By April 13, rain totaled eight inches over the Pearl Basin and up to twenty inches in the east central part of the state. The Pearl River was more than fifteen feet above flood stage and the flooding occurred when the levees became overwhelmed with heavy rain upstream. More than 17,000 residents of Jackson, Flowood, Pearl, Richland, and other communities were forced out of their homes and most of downtown Jackson was under water. Water was nine feet deep at the Mississippi Fairgrounds. In 1979, flood stage in Jackson was eighteen feet; now it has been raised to twenty-eight feet. Four people died as a result of the flooding. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY