Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Flood of 2011

Water from the swollen Mississippi River surrounds the
Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Company Depot in Vicksburg. (Reuters/Sean Gardner)

Crews, businesses and residents desperate to escape the rising waters of the Mississippi River are working on levees and filling sandbags this week. The waters threaten the fertile Mississippi Delta and the river's crest hit a high mark in Memphis Tuesday, just inches short of the record set in 1937. The damage is costing communities millions of dollars in damage.

Some low-lying neighborhoods in Memphis were flooded but high levees protected the rest of the city. Landmarks such as Graceland stayed dry. Downstream in Louisiana, inmates filled sandbags to protect property in Cajun swamp communities that could be flooded if engineers open a spillway to protect the more densely populated Baton Rouge area.

The gambling industry in Mississippi is taking a hit: All 19 casinos along the river will be shut down by the end of the week, costing governments $12 million to $13 million in taxes per month, authorities said. That will put some 13,000 employees temporarily out of work.

Widespread flooding was expected along the Yazoo River, a tributary that is backed up because of the bloated river. Rolling Fork, home of blues legend Muddy Waters, was also in danger of getting inundated.

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