Monday, May 9, 2011

Levees watched, locals warned in Memphis - Weather - msnbc.com

A levee keeps high water on the Mississippi Ri...Image via Wikipediahttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42953666/ns/weather/?GT1=43001
Now expecting the Mississippi River to crest in Memphis late Monday, hours sooner than previously predicted, officials were going door-to-door in unprotected neighborhoods as well as monitoring levees protecting most of the city.



To the south, authorities in Louisiana stepped up their preparations by opening floodgates at a spillway northwest of New Orleans to take pressure off levees in populated areas. Inmates were also scheduled to be moved from a prison near Baton Rouge.
In Memphis, the homes in most danger of flooding are in areas not protected by levees or floodwalls, including near Nonconnah Creek and the Wolf and Loosahatchie rivers, said Col. Vernie Reichling, the Army Corps of Engineers commander for the Memphis district.
About 150 Corps workers were walking along levees and monitoring the performance of pump stations along what Reichling called the "wicked" Mississippi. "There should be no concern for any levees to fail," he said in a downtown park on a bluff overlooking the river.

For Cedric Blue, the flooding in his south Memphis neighborhood near the overflowing Nonconnah Creek is a source of frustration and anger.
Blue, 39, has watched as the water engulfed three homes on his street, including that of an older woman who had to be rescued in a boat because she had refused to leave. Blue fears the rising water will ruin his house and his belongings while washing away a lifetime of memories that were created there.
Sunday afternoon, a garbage can floated in the high water near his house. Some feet away, the water had reached more than halfway up a yellow "No Outlet" street sign.
He became emotional talking about how he has about 7 feet of water in his backyard and less than a foot inside the house, which his mother owns. They were in the middle of a remodeling project when the flood hit.
Blue said he wants the city, county or the federal government to give him a hotel voucher so he does not have to go to a shelter.
"I just want a new life and relocation," Blue said. "I would like the elected officials to come down here to see this with their own eyes and see what we're going through."
Mayor AC Wharton said that despite the tightened timeframe, he's confident that precautions such as door-to-door warnings have prepared the city.

"We don't have as much time, but fortunately we're ready for it," Wharton told CBS television Monday.
Wharton said disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, which flooded parts of New Orleans and other areas in 2005, have shown that you can't simply get the word out by issuing warnings on TV.
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