The Memphis Flood of 2011 Through the Eyes of a Child — My Nine Year Old Niece Learns Life Lessons about the Mississippi River

The SUV floating in flood water

The view on my niece’s ride to & from school. She watched water take that SUV.

Saturday, as I headed east toward Midtown, my nine year old niece was riding in the back seat. (Tip — it seems having the top down in nice weather neutralizes a kids desire to sit up front cause I don’t let her just yet.) We were talking about the day. She had been to a special event for the Girl Scouts in the area who sold the most cookies. I had made a morning visit to downtown with friends to see the flood (was included with my Sunday post), then dashed across town to pick up my nephew before heading back downtown to see the Memphis Grizzlies play the Oklahoma City Thunder (I have a blog post in mind but as of yet unwritten).

She was really interested in what I’d seen at the river and said she’d really like to go. She told me that every day on her way to school, she’s been seeing a church that’s flooded and some houses around it too. I told her about the plan to get my mom to the River for Mother’s Day and she said she wanted to go, that was part of the plan.

Driving toward the river Sunday,  my mom, niece and I were on our way downtown when mom mentioned she was a baby when the river was last up this high and didn’t remember any of it. That’s when I thought about my niece…. at 9 years old she will most likely remember the Great Flood of 2011. And to get the kids perspective, I handed over my video camera and taught her how to use a monopod.

So today I’m sharing the video she shot, with some edits to pull it together and the song that Memphians most equate with the Mississippi River in the month of May. The Memphis in May Festival concludes each year with the Sunset Symphony and for many of us grew up in Memphis, we couldn’t imagine the event without Mr. James Hyter singing “Old Man River.” I pulled the audio from a spectacular performance video klagee1970 posted on YouTube.

the church that's flooded

The church my niece mentioned seeing daily

The drive my sister and niece take to get to school each day is one I’m fairly familiar with — when I was a teenager, we went through the neighborhood frequently going between my parents’ & my grandmom’s homes. But the sights there today were drawing a crowd. People were somber, much as my niece had been as she thoughtfully captured images of the water coming up.

I stood there seeing saw what she was seeing each day…. the church was closest to the Wolf River, then houses got water next. My niece watched as the water level rose taking houses, an SUV, etc. I’m betting as you watch the slide show, you will understand. The houses are small and most likely the people living here are scraping to get by. As I saw the SUV under a carport, I wondered if it just had something rather simple go wrong but the parts or labor were going to cost too much to get it fixed immediately.

The experiences we have when we’re young can sometimes shape a life. If so, I hope this insures she remains the compassionate soul we see today. We need a lot more of them in the grown up world. What other good outcomes do you think can come from this sort of experience?

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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6 Responses to The Memphis Flood of 2011 Through the Eyes of a Child — My Nine Year Old Niece Learns Life Lessons about the Mississippi River

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