Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flood Crest Expected To Last 4 to 7 Days

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM

When the Mississippi River crests at 48 feet on May 11th, it's expected to stay that way for several days, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Okulski.

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Okulski told a crowd of media and emergency professionals gathered at the Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) operations center today that the high water may last from four to seven days. The Mississippi River is expected to maintain a 40 foot crest through the end of May. But Okulski said no additional rainfall is expected in the Memphis area over the next week. He said he isn't sure how rainfall in the Ohio Basin might affect flooding downstream.

"This is not a flash flood. This is a progressive flood," said Memphis and Shelby County EMA director Bob Nations. "It may rise about one foot every 24 hours."

Nations said the expected slow recession of water could "be a very damaging event" in terms of how it may affect infrastructure.

The latest numbers from the EMA show that 2,832 properties in Shelby County will possibly be flooded by the time the river crests. Some have already been evacuated. That number is down from yesterday's prediction of 5,300 properties.

Northside High School is the only Memphis City School that may see flood waters high enough to come into the building. Six other schools may see some flooding on their property, but specifics were not available at today's 4 p.m. press briefing.

Nations said he had "high confidence" that area levees would hold, but he admitted those levees have never been tested like they will be when the river crests.

Nations issued a warning to people who may think the lack of rainfall and lowered number of potentially flooded properties could mean the threat of flooding is lessened: "The bullet hasn't been flown yet," Nations said. Maps are being updated often, and he said people should remain on guard.

For a look at areas expected to flood by zip code, check out the maps here.

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