Mississippi floodwaters surge in Memphis, but crest is still days away
Evacuations and closed highways are a taste of what is in store for Memphis, Tenn., as the Mississippi rises. Farther south, Jackson, Miss., residents are already being asked to evacuate.
Rising floodwaters in and around Memphis, Tenn., Thursday have led to evacuations, highway and school closings, and at least one death.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Mississippi River floods
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But the highest waters are still days away. The city’s highest water level in 74 years is expected to crest next week, starting Wednesday.
The Mississippi River is currently at 45.2 feet, according to the National Weather Service, causing flooding primarily on Mud Island, which is connected to downtown Memphis through a bridge and causeway. About 5,000 residents are at risk.
Among the communities affected are not only those along the two rivers, but also areas along and near their many tributaries in Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky. Evacuations are already taking place in Dyersburg, Tenn., because of projected floodwaters coming from the north end of the Forked Deer River, which intersects with the Mississippi.
Interstates 40 and 55 affected
Flooding caused Arkansas highway authorities on Wednesday to shut the westbound lanes on parts of Interstate 40. One man drowned in Prairie County, Ark., located about 100 miles west of Memphis. Water also blocked parts of Interstate 55 in Shelby County, which includes Memphis.
With water levels still rising by about a foot per day, the greatest impact is yet to come. Water is expected to crest at 48 feet in Memphis on Wednesday, the second highest river level since 1937, when flooding crested at 48.7 feet in the city. The National Weather Service is projecting a slow decrease, with water expected to remain in place for at least two weeks.