As John Branston has pointed out, the Memphis flood of 2011 may be the most photographed and family friendly flood in history. My family and I were downtown Sunday for a Mothers Day lunch and the streets were packed. You'd have thought it was Sunset Symphony day or the Fourth of July. Families were everywhere — the River Walk, Harbor Town, at the foot of Beale, and even in what is left of Tom Lee Park.
There was a holiday atmosphere, as people took turns, waiting to stand in front of — or in — the Mississippi River for photos. Yes, sadly, 300 or 400 people are in local shelters, but unlike with a sudden flash flood, everyone in Memphis has had a couple of weeks' warning. This flood has come on slowly, inexorably, about a foot or so a day. My friends' land on the Arkansas side, just south of West Memphis went under more than two weeks ago. It's now no longer "land." It amuses me when the national media uses the tired, inevitable cliche, "the raging Mississippi." This is not a raging flood; it's pushy, taking territory slowly, like a fat person in the seat next to you on an airplane.
As natural disasters go, this is one of the safest I've seen — so far. Of course, a levee could break and sudden catastrophe could befall many more people, but at this point Memphis' luck is holding. And as the water recedes, we will be given an unprecedented chance to clean up some of the residual trash that plagues our waterways. At the margins of all the flooded lands is a line of garbage — mostly plastic (See the Harbor Town photo below). That stuff will still be there when the water is gone. If nothing else, the flood will have made cleanup easier by pushing the trash out of our rivers and into our backyards and parks. I say, let's get that crap out of the environment while it's easy.
And, ahem, like everyone else in Memphis, I have a few photos to share.