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Mississippi River Floods Take Toll On Poor -- How You Can Help (VIDEO)

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MISSISSIPPI FLOODING

On the banks of the river in Vicksburg, Miss., 12 people -- including infants and children -- live in one house.

As the Mississippi River continues to swell, floodwaters force them -- and other residents in the town -- to pack their things and head for higher ground, the Associated Press reports.

Although the waters are spreading across Arkansas and Tennessee, it may be Mississippi that has it hardest. Within the state, one in five live in poverty -- the highest level in the country, according to the Census Bureau. Many don't have insurance or anywhere to go.

The children in Vicksburg play in the murky floodwater. Neighbors help remove vehicles from the flooding. David Henderson, a resident of the town, tells the Associated Press that he wonders when they'll receive assistance.

"At this moment, no help right now. It might be later coming on. But not right now. We ain't getting no help."

There are also small, poor communities that have no newspaper or TV station. MSNBC reports that officials in the small town Rena Lara, Miss. say they'll warn the 500 residents if they have to leave.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said the state is also asking local officials to track down people who don't have electricity and phones and would have no way to hear about flooding, according to MSNBC.

"It's a tiny number, but we have to find them," Barbour said.

On Wednesday, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for 14 counties in Mississippi. Housing and home repairs will be covered and low-interest loans to cover uninsured damage will be available, MSNBC reports.

How To Help:

The Red Cross of Mississippi has opened shelters in Vicksburg and elsewhere in Mississippi Delta. The organization is now accepting donations.

United Way of West Central Mississippi is helping residents by paying the deposit and first month's rent for temporary units. It's also helping people pay for storage and providing $500 to families hosting displaced residents. You can help this United Way branch, which has given out approximately $35,000 in the past two weeks.

The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service will dispatch volunteers once flood waters recede. Find out how you can volunteer or donate.

WATCH:

Around the Web

Residents brace for more flooding as Mississippi River swells - CNN

Mississippi River Flooding Photos: Images Of 2011 Historic Floods

Mississippi River flooding - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Mississippi flood may be "large-scale disaster" - CBS News

Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center - NWS