RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. - Catastrophic flooding impacted the Deep South Wednesday, and the situation quickly became life-threatening for children at a daycare facility with no means of getting to higher ground.
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey and his department quickly sprang into action once they got an emergency call from the Railroad Day Care Center in Florence, Mississippi.
"Well, it was shocking at first when they called and said they needed assistance evacuating a daycare with 100 plus children there," Bailey said.
Rescuers responded with high-water vehicles to evacuate the children from classrooms, but the scene quickly became chaotic.
"Some things that threw a wrench into it were parents trying to respond to the daycare to pick up their children…clogging up the road," Bailey said. "Some of them were getting stranded in the flood water."
The Rankin County responders remained calm and got everyone out of harm's way.
"We got all that turned around, got everybody removed," Bailey said. "The staff maybe even made some trips back to get the children’s bags and their clothes and different things like that."
Rankin County is no stranger to weather extremes - the central part of the state has battled through ice storms, flooding and tornadoes in recent years.
Having the right tools available and knowledge from past events, Bailey told FOX Weather’s Ian Oliver and Brigit Mahoney how his team was ready for the Flash Flooding Emergency.
"So each time I learn something, we buy more equipment," Bailey said. "So again, I had rescue equipment staged at different parts of the county, and luckily it was pretty close to each call there."
The Mississippi sheriff and his crew also helped safely evacuate residents from a nursing home in Brandon.
"I knew at their age we needed to get them evacuated by us to get them warmed up," Bailey said.
Once on higher ground, the residents of the Peach Tree Village were provided with towels and a hot meal at a temporary shelter.
Between the daycare facility, assisted living home and other scenes, deputies estimate close to 200 people were rescued from the flash flooding.
Doppler radar estimated between half a foot to a foot of rainfall fell over the region during the morning hours, which quickly inundated streams and low-lying areas.