Mississippi River Flood Water Keeps Rising in Memphis, Tennessee Makes a Word-Filled Wednesday

nasty flood waterI may be overdoing it with the many pictures of downtown Memphis if today’s blog post but the views of downtown were so captivating. And we actually had sun and I just couldn’t bring myself to come inside — driving around with the top down and running around various parks and places to take photos was nice even if the subject matter is tough to see.

Not only did I go along some of the tourist places like Riverside Drive, the river boat docks and Mud Island, but I also went to a more industrial section on the river that’s actually called President’s Island. It’s President’s Island where barges come & go for refueling, for filling with grain to take to the port in New Orleans, etc. Friends and I toured a grain facility during an Ag Relations Council a couple of years ago and one had already asked about the area. That specific facility is still dry, but the water is coming fast and according to the latest forecasts, we will crest next week several feet higher than we are today so we will be watching.

The river is up higher than I’ve ever seen it. And as someone who enjoys the river and shows people around our parks along the river routinely, it is stunning to see the way Memphis looks with such high water levels. Local reporters and the weather services all say that this will be looked back on for years to come as the great flood of 2011. The great flood of 1927 is the one that is generally pointed to in this area (there is a great photo gallery with photos of downtown Memphis and farm land in the region). That flood has been a major shaper for me in the past 15 years. I lived where the flood waters first broke through. And in fact, for several years, my office windows looked out on that levee. If I stretched just a little, I could see where the levee broke that yielded the Rising Tide popularized in the John Barry book during my Delta stint.

Life on the Levee

When you live along the levee, you are accustomed to some flooding. People in some areas live on the inside of the levee which means they almost expect to flood every couple of years. I can remember some friends packing up routinely. Placing their items up on tables hoping the water doesn’t get too high. Some even continued living in their homes and took boats in and out! So I have to assume all of them have evacuated.

Living on the side of the levee which left you protected, didn’t necessarily mean you didn’t get water in fields or home. But we did appreciate the Corps of Engineers and the levee boards for staying on top of it as the river is central to economic viability of our regions and agricultural markets. That’s what I’ve always thought the Corps of Engineers did. But in 1927 they were wrong, the levees didn’t hold as they said they would and the crevasse let the raging waters take fields, homes, livestock, etc. I could stand atop the levee and look out and see where sand came in…. crops tended to burn up in the summer heat in those areas even 75 years later.

usually you have to be on a boat or island to get photos with water in the foreground of Memphis

me in disbelief that there’s water in the foreground & I’m not on Mud Island

But I have to hope that we don’t have the human losses again. The warning systems are in place and evacuations are talked about throughout the media and shelter cots placed in the region for Katrina are back in use. Tutorials on how to evacuate are inclusive of what type of papers you may need (mortgage, insurance, birth certificate/passport, etc) and how to shut off the utilities in your home.

I’m thankful my great-grandparents chose to live in Memphis and that I moved “home” a few years ago. We have the blessing of being “the bluff city” so we are up higher than many areas. I guess that just means we need to be sure we do our part to help our neighbors once this passes and water finally starts going down late next week.

Some of the other flooding posts I’ve seen in the last day or two include:

You may enjoy Wordless or Wordfilled Wednesday efforts on other blogs (maybe they won’t be so wordy!).

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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38 Responses to Mississippi River Flood Water Keeps Rising in Memphis, Tennessee Makes a Word-Filled Wednesday

  1. jesadler May 4, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    I like this post..I’m doing a series myself on the memphis flood and storm damage. It’s at http://wp.me/p1wKCu-U. I like your blog, too! I’m going to explore…I’m a social media marketer so nice, informative blogs are always exciting to me :)

  2. DrillerAA May 4, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    We’ve had our share of rain over here on the west side of Arkansas as well. Stay safe and stay dry.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 4, 2011 at 8:49 am #

      THanks for coming by. I didn’t realize the flooding went all the way across Arkansas. Your state is obviously hurting too….. I kept looking at the river…. seems it has grown exponentially…. the part of Arkansas here near Memphis is suffering badly. My heart goes out to all of you. Stay dry and stay safe.

  3. Aimee May 4, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    We live close to a creek. It flooded really bad last year in our neighborhood but thank God it didn’t affect us. Hopefuly this year will be better for everyone.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 4, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      I’m glad to hear you aren’t having trouble this spring! My neighborhood is safe & sound so like you, I’m thankful. However, my mom has never seen the river up this high and she’s 75. That’s scary and does reflect an understanding of the loss that is occurring.

  4. Steve Burns May 4, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Those are some great pictures, and there are some amazing views of the river there. The Mud Island pictures provide the best reference for me. That’s a lot of water!

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 4, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      I agree! It is absolutely disappearing before our eyes…. I thought I may want to get downtown & take the monorail over to snap photos.

    • Shirl September 20, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Unparalleled accuracy, unequvoical clarity, and undeniable importance!

  5. XmasDolly May 4, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Harsh reality. No one ever thinks it’s going to happen to them, it’s going to happen in their neighborhood. Wake-up people it’s happening all over the world. Love your pics. They speak for themselves.

  6. Steve Heckman May 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Is the corn milling facility operated by Cargill impacted by the flood?

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

      Steve, I’m not sure where the Cargill facility is exactly. The one I was checking in on was ADM. And that put me pretty far out on the channel side of the island and I came back along the harbor. Cargill wasn’t one of the ones where the water was highest though… I tried to note those. With everything going on, I may have driven right past it though… there was too much to look at.

  7. Jodi May 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. Growing up close to the beach and in hurricane country, I know that flooding is not fun at all. Best of luck to you and all the folks in your area as the river crests.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 5, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      Thanks Jodi. I think those of us in Memphis are the lucky ones… Friends in the Mississippi Delta where the levee broke in 1927 are very worried. They are trying to decide whether to flee now for higher ground knowing that would mean leaving behind generations of photos, history, etc. Not knowing what will happen is the most frightening thing.

  8. Jennifer Campbell May 5, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Don’t think you can ever over do pics – they tell so much of a story – good and bad! My Dad always says he can’t remember a year (here is central Indiana) that a crop didn’t get planted but the waiting never gets easier!

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 5, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Your dad is so right! I talked to a farmer yesterday who when I asked where he was with planting, he almost didn’t want to say knowing how many were in worse shape than he was. We just hope the river crests soon and starts going back down!

  9. Lindsey Barker May 5, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    We are going to have to cross the bridge coming into memphis next friday. We are going on a cruise out of mobile and i’m already not a fan of large bridges….how safe is the travel across the bridge now??

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

      It is and I haven’t heard concerns about the bridges’ safety other than if major debris hits it but engineers are keeping an eye out for that. I understand your nervousness about bridges but feel certain the AR & TN departments of transportation safety will be closely monitoring the situation. The river is to crest early in the week so hopefully by next Friday it will be headed in the right direction again!

  10. Joe May 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    IInterested in your Presidents Island visit — I own a site on Channel Av. did you happen to venture on that street? Thanks.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      I went down both Harbor & Channel. If you can help me understand where it is on Channel, I may be able to tell you more. In the photos there are a few photos of the Valero site at the start of Channel and a few from the street adjacent to ADM where everything seemed dry.

      • Joe May 6, 2011 at 10:09 am #

        It’s just after Channel splits from the main drive and near the fertilizer plant. Thanks much, Joe

        • JPlovesCOTTON May 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

          Joe the Emergency management folks put out new detailed maps today to show the flooding more clearly because they are hoping to get 20,000 people to evacuate. The map for President’s Island is at http://www.staysafeshelby.us/clr/Zipcode__38113.pdf and you can see a clear logic for finding other zipcodes too. And it also seems to match what I saw the other day. Places they had in red already had water coming up and the water is rising several feet beyond that mark so I’d anticipate water could reach roads in some lots.

  11. Dennis Dugan May 6, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    In searching the news providers in Memphis, your blog by far provides me the pictures of downtown I wanted to see in order to get a real feel for the situation. I got lucky and found your post. If you post more I’m still trying to picture how the water level compares to Tom Lee Park and Riverside drive – is it/will it actually cover the park and the street ?

    Thank you for the great service – you probably saved those Harbor Towners who hate the traffic having one more car on Auction street.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 6, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks for the compliment Dennis! I havee family down along the bluff so I park at their place and just wander now and then. Will be back down there this weekend & plan to shoot some more photos. . By the way, the auction street bridge is now closed to anyone other than media & residents!This is going to be a flood they talk about for decades I bet.

  12. Jackie May 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Visited this area a few years ago and loved it – hope things can get back to normal as soon as possible. Best wishes from Scotland.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 8, 2011 at 12:34 am #

      Thanks! I hope the recovery is really quick too!

  13. gwendolyn lowe May 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Hello, out there, I live here in south memphis on mallory ave and I have seen the rising waters all around me . I have a news paper route in south memphis that covers president island and I tell you from first hand the water is slowly coming in. I was so shocked and heart broken when I saw a dear that had been hit by a 18 wheeler laying on the side of the road on trigg street and another dear looking for some place to go coming off of president island .The company apac, is under water, the water is coming in from the back side across the street at ergon where the dock is. I spoke with a security guard and asked him if he would be back at work and he replied not if the water keep rising, this is reality for us here in the memphis. Another location off of brooks road on norbrook in the back of the ware houses is a area of concern, the water is rising, you could actually fish in the back of the ware houses. I pray and hope that we all can get out before the water comes in. God Bless

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 8, 2011 at 12:38 am #

      Gwendolyn, Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t been back to President’s Island in several days so I appreciate the update! I hope you & your family stay dry & safe.

  14. Ed Nicholson May 9, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Amazing stuff. Thanks for posting, Janice.

  15. Sue U.K. May 10, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Hi,
    Do you have any idea if any if the cotton warehouses on Firestone Rd, River City have /or are likely to flood please?
    I’ve looked all over and your website is more informative than most of the ‘official’ sites! Thank you from Oxfordshire.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 10, 2011 at 8:38 am #

      I haven’t been in that exact area though its not too far from where my mom grew up and that was dry. But I will see what I can find out. My first guess from talking with my mom is they should be dry but I’d like to be sure.

      • Sue U.K. May 10, 2011 at 11:32 am #

        Thanks, that’s very kind.

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