Memphis, Tennessee (AFP) May 10, 2011
The worst floods to hit the central United States in more than 70 years have swallowed up homes, farms and roads after the Mississippi River swelled to six times its normal width.
Army engineers on Tuesday patrolled stressed levees in waterlogged Memphis, Tennessee, where the Mississippi -- normally about half a mile across -- is currently about three miles (4.8 kilometers) wide.
Daryl Hissong and his three-year-old son were among thousands of people forced from their homes by the muddy waters of record spring flooding.
They packed up on Sunday and by Monday morning there was five feet (almost two meters) of water inside their home in a Memphis suburb.
"They said it'll probably be a month before all of this goes down," Hissong told AFP as he looked out over waters that had swept up to the rooftops of neighboring trailer homes.
Levees and natural bluffs have protected most of Memphis from serious flooding, but those living in the affluent neighborhood of Mud Island were struggling to keep the waters at bay.
The floodwater has already engulfed homes along the shoreline and on Monday broke through a sandbag barrier set up around a condominium on the other side of the road.
"We're staying and riding it out, I guess," resident Dawn Watkins said as workers reinforced the sandbags. "I didn't have any water until just a few minutes ago."
The Memphis music landmarks of Graceland and Sun Studios on Beale Street have not been affected.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has meanwhile deployed about 150 people to patrol the city's levees day and night to check for problems, with a spokesman saying they were "very confident that the levee system is up to the test."
Portions of the Mississippi were closed to shipping and the US Coast Guard opened flood gates outside of New Orleans to help protect the low-lying city as a flood wave makes its way slowly down to the Gulf of Mexico.
"We're looking at some pretty substantial flooding all the way from Memphis to Louisiana," said Tom Bradshaw, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Heavy rains last month filled rivers and creeks already swollen from the melting of a thick winter snow pack, which are now backing up because the Mississippi is so swollen.
It's the biggest flood in the Mississippi Valley since 1937 and the river is rising above those records in some areas, Bradshaw said.
"What's helping us is that we have a lot of levees we didn't have back in 1937 and they're able to control the water a lot better so you don't see the massive displacement of folks and literally washing away of towns that you did in the old days," he said.
But it will still take weeks for the river levels to return to normal and there are plenty of homes which could be lost, particularly in the low-lying Mississippi Delta.
Martin Moss, who lives near Horn Lake, Mississippi said the potential flooding was hard to take after three weeks of tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms which blasted the area last month.
"I could use a break from all this," said Moss as he packed up his possessions and stored them in his attic.
And then there's the second flood -- tourists, gawkers, and amateur photographers whose cars glutted Downtown Memphis streets.
"I can understand their curiosity, but it was really quite difficult," said Mary Ann Bodayla, who lives on Mud Island. "Even the mailman had difficulty because there were so many cars."
For others, projecting the damage and knowing when to evacuate has become a numbers game.
"The business behind us started moving merchandise out last week," said Andrew Tunstall, Jr., manager of the Napa Auto Parts store in Memphis.
A lake of flood water blanketed the acreage behind his store, making islands out of warehouses and rows of semi trailers.
"We're going to be able to stay put because the river's supposed to crest at 48 feet," he said. "If it gets to 50 feet, it will come up to the back wall, but it still won't come into the store."
Meanwhile, Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky said Monday most of the 3,800 people evacuated from counties along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers may soon be allowed to return home and assess the damage.
US President Barack Obama meanwhile declared a "major disaster" in both Missouri and Tennessee on Monday, ordering federal aid to supplement local recovery efforts.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest
Vicksburg, Mississippi (AFP) May 6, 2011
Weary residents in the storm ravaged central United States packed their belongings into moving trucks and prayed for levees to hold Friday as swollen rivers swallowed roads, farms and homes. "When you see the Mississippi River and it's two miles (three kilometers) wide it's sobering," Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam told CNN. "We have everything from state prisons to nursing homes that co ... read more
Japan nuclear evacuees make brief trip home|
Japan's Kan declines PM's pay over nuclear crisis
China claims 'victory' in rebuilding quake zone
No country immune, UN chief warns as disaster risks grow
Bats lend an ear to sonar engineering
Researchers get new view of how water and sulfur dioxide mix
Russia says fire put out near radioactive facility
More effective and less risky when you paint the hull of your boat
Laos agrees to new study on Mekong dam
Green roofs as a cost-effective way to keep water out of sewers
Massive hydroelectric project gets green light in Chile
Tree rings tell a 1,100-year history of El Nino
Stricken Russian nuclear icebreaker due at port: official
Nuclear leak forces Russian icebreaker back to port
Arctic warming could raise oceans 5 feet
Record Arctic warming to boost sea level rise
Availability of Local Food Key to Improving Food Security
Soils of U.K., Europe drying out
Indonesia turns ASEAN focus to food, energy security
US farmers dodge the impacts of global warming at least for now
Tropical storm Aere kills 15 in Philippines
Life pauses on rumbling Philippine volcano
Floods along mighty Mississippi swamp farms, homes
Bolivia at risk of megaquake: study
Burkina Faso ruling party says opposition aiming for coup
Chinese army gives rocket launchers, weapons to Sierra Leone
Disaster-hit Japan will not cut aid to Africa: spokesman
Diehard pro-Gbagbo militia begin to disarm
Indian brides told to put down their mobile phones
Super-healing researcher follows intuition
No nuts for 'Nutcracker Man'
Why the eye is better than a camera at capturing contrast and faint detail simultaneously
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|