MISSISSIPPI FLOODING

17 May

In May 2011, all eyes from Illinois to the gulf have been on the mighty Mississippi River and the flood waters rushing southward, pushing back the river’s tributaries into the towns along its banks, sending residents scattering toward higher ground and approaching levels it has not reached in over 70 years.

In Cairo, Ill., the rain-swollen river crested to an all-time high in early May as it surged past the city, exceeding the 1937 record by 2 feet. Government engineers were left with two choices: Let Cairo flood or explode a levee to save the town. They blew up the levee. But while Cairo was saved, other communities may not be so lucky.

In Memphis, the Mississippi crested on May 10, 2011, flooding low-lying neighborhoods in the city but falling short of record levels that would have caused far more damage. The river topped out at 47.8 feet early in the day, far above flood stage but 4 inches lower than the predicted crest of 48 feet and almost a foot lower than the record crest of 48.7 feet in 1937.

The flood waters were expected to stay at or near that level for several days before receding as the crest moves downriver, said Susan Buchanan of the National Weather Service.

Officials have already spent days fighting back the White River in Arkansas, where there have been two deaths and hundreds of homes have flooded. Hundreds of residents are being urged to evacuate certain areas in and around Memphis, where tributaries have swelled into parts of the city as well as suburbs and mobile home parks and inundated a small airport.

The river is still a couple of weeks away from cresting in the Mississippi Delta, but experts are predicting all-time records. As it bulges past Natchez around May 22, it is projected to be several feet above the height it reached in the Great Flood of 1927, when the river broke its banks, flooded 27,000 square miles, killed hundreds and displaced thousands.The flood-control system that arose in the wake of that flood has never been put to such a test.

This article was taken from the New York Times:
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/mississippi-river/index.html?scp=2&sq=the%20mississippi%20flooding&st=cse

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