Those floods along the Mississippi River that have already displaced thousands of people are predicted to get even worse in the coming weeks: The swollen Mississippi River carried its dangers of flooding and damage into the Delta on Wednesday
May 11, 2011

Those floods along the Mississippi River that have already displaced thousands of people are predicted to get even worse in the coming weeks:

The swollen Mississippi River carried its dangers of flooding and damage into the Delta on Wednesday morning as residents in three states including Louisiana prepared for weeks of battling the river’s growing energy.

The river crested just inches below its record stage of 48.7 feet in Memphis, Tenn., on Tuesday. But, by Wednesday morning, the river had passed its record in Natchez, Miss., reaching 58 feet and growing, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters predict the river will crest in Natchez on May 21 at about 64 feet.

At Vicksburg, Miss., the river is expected to crest at 57.5 feet on May 19, about 1.5 feet above the record crest of 1927, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. In Helena, Ark., the river on Wednesday was at more than 56 feet, about 12 feet above flood stage.

“The flood crest along the Mississippi is forecast to move slowly downstream towards New Orleans during the next three weeks,” the weather service said in a posting on its website Wednesday morning.

“The White River, the Arkansas River, Big Black River are just a few major tributaries that may be impacted by the Mississippi main stem flooding. Interstate 40 west of Memphis between Hazen and Brinkley is closed in both directions due to the White River overflowing its banks. At this time there is no anticipated time for reopening the road," the statement said.

The swollen river has forced thousands of people along the watery route to seek higher ground, hundreds going to shelters. Crops have been washed away, hundreds of millions of dollars in damage has already been reported and more is expected. As the floodwater moves south, officials worry about the impact on Mississippi’s casino industry and later on Louisiana’s petroleum facilities.

There's also lots of concern in the Delta, where these waters are headed:

RENA LARA, Miss. (AP) — Crews are working to shore up levees along the swelling Mississippi River, as the crest continues to move south.

Dump trucks have been hauling gravel to a levee in the small Mississippi community of Rena Lara, where people are uneasy. Public officials are assuring them that they expect the levee to hold, and that they will give them plenty of notice if they need to leave.

But one woman there says, "It's getting scary." She says residents aren't being allowed up to the riverbank.

In Louisiana, inmates are filling sandbags to protect Cajun swamp communities. The areas could be flooded if engineers open a spillway to protect the Baton Rouge area.

The river reached its peak yesterday in Memphis, Tenn., just inches short of the record. Some low-lying neighborhoods were inundated, but high levees protected much of the rest of the city.

Officials say the river level has decreased slightly today in Memphis. But some homes were left with polluted floodwaters near their first-floor ceilings, and others are completely submerged.

Here's an excellent explainer from CNN.

And here are some ways you can help flooding and tornado victims:

The Salvation Army continues to provide services across the south. It has served more than 165,000 meals, provided 54 mobile feeding units, and Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers have served a total of 40,371 hours. Click here for ways to donate.
United Way is working with private, public, faith-based and community partners to assess the long-term recovery needs of each community. It is also helping in the provision of food, shelter, emergency health and transportation for those affected by the floods. The United Way of the Mid-South (Memphis, Tennessee) and United Way of the Capitol Area (Jackson, Mississippi) have each established disaster relief funds.
The American Red Cross is helping flood victims forced from their homes. In Memphis, 400 Red Cross volunteers are helping to run Red Cross shelter and are providing food and water to residents and first responders. In Jackson, Mississippi, more than 50 volunteers gathered to assemble relief kits. Click here to donate to the Red Cross. You can also make a $10 donation by texting the word "REDCROSS" to 90999.
AmeriCares has been delivering medicines, medical supplies and aid to people across the South since the tornadoes struck. Click here to donate.

CNN has compiled a comprehensive list of organizations helping victims across the South. For more information on the organizations and how to donate, click here.

Eventually, climate change is going to be brought into this conversation, because these kinds of floods -- featuring unusual volumes of water being delivered into river systems from the atmosphere -- are in fact exactly what climate-change scientists predicted would occur as a result of global warming. And as sure as night follows day, the right-wing denialists will be attacking any such observations.

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