The creek, in this case, the Mississippi and its tributaries, is rising. A lot of people who live in lower-lying areas of the city have already been forced out of their homes by the rising water. I read a few minutes ago that the Mississippi is swollen to 3 miles across at one point downtown. It’s usually only a half-mile across there. We’ve had a lot of disaster action lately. Just a few days ago, I was hunkered down in my living room, watching wind shear, tornadic rotations and watch boxes on the TV, poised to run to my “safe place” if the major storm blew up Carolina Avenue.
The push of the river over its banks is nothing short of amazing. I jogged by Beale Street the other day, when water was just starting to back out of the storm drain. The southern half of Mud Island was submerged, as were big chunks of Tom Lee Park (thank goodness he’s got that row boat!)
I caught a little of Mayor Wharton’s appearance on the CBS Morning Show, assuring the national audience that the city is prepared for worst. I think that measured calm that Wharton exudes will be particularly helpful during this time. Not to slag the former mayor, I’m sure he could have struck the right notes as well – but I don’t think I would have had a lot of confidence in his people to help the population get through all this (I’d hate us to end up with one of those “you’re doing a great job Brownie” situations).
Fortunately, my house is about 20 feet higher than the part of downtown that’s getting wet, so I’ve put off plans to lug my downstairs valuables upstairs. The interest thing about the water downtown is how is attracting the looky-Lous. May is the busiest time in my part of Memphis, due to the Memphis in May festival. A couple of Fridays ago, I went to watch the Grizzlies eliminate the Spurs. The Forum was packed, there was a baseball game across the street in AutoZone Park, Music Fest was going on and the monthly Main Street Trolley Tour brought a few more people out. Naturally, we were all ignoring the storm warnings.
It could be my imagination, but it seems like nearly as many people are wandering to the heart of the city to see the flood water. I saw that Diane Sawyer will anchor ABC’s World News from Memphis tonight. I also see that the Corps of Engineers is already looking at action to try and protect New Orleans (considering the Corp’s track record with NOLA [see Katrina], they might want to consider other options).
I will keep checking the flood maps for zip code 38103 at the website of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. Looks like the potential for water extends to the point where Riverside Drive starts climbing the hill toward South Bluffs. It could potentially get to Georgia Avenue, which would surprise me – but that’s still a block away. Worst comes to worst, I’ll be heading to Cordova till the levels drop.