May 13, 2011- Up until Monday morning the levee systems in the city of Memphis were still holding up against Mother Nature’s onslaught. As near record levels all along the Mississippi River were threatening the city in Tennessee as well as many other cities and towns.
Far down river, about 28 miles north of New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers will open a spillway in order to try and reduce the velocity and volume of the Mississippi as it races south to empty into the Gulf. An estimated 2 million gallons per second of water is what the spillway can handle as it will divert the water from the Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain and then the Gulf of Mexico. This is in an effort to help the many low lying areas in and around New Orleans.
Many sections of New Orleans are still, almost six years later, recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the city’s levee system. But for today all eyes are on Memphis and the levees there. The Corps said that the water is moving at a rate of over 2 million cubic feet per second or the equivalent of filling up an area the size of a football field with 44 feet of water in just one second.
Sunday night the flood waters were at just over 47 feet with the crest expected to be Tuesday morning at 48 feet making it just short of the record breaking flood of 1937 when over 500 perished and 20 million acres were flooded.
Many residents have already been evacuated from homes and trailers in the low lying parts of the county and more have been told to evacuate. There are over 400 residents in shelters and many more expected.