Mid-State Helps Ease Affects Of Memphis Flooding

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 21:16:55-05

The rising waters of the Mississippi River have the American Red Cross, and the Army Corps of Engineers, working to help ease the affects of flooding.

Late last week The Corp of Engineers began storing water in its lakes to help ease the flooding situation on the Lower Mississippi River.

"Water that runs off in the Cumberland River, flows downstream to the Ohio, which empties into the Mississippi," explained Ben Rohrbach with the Corps of Engineers Nashville office.

Water levels on storage like lakes like J. Percy Priest and Center Hill have risen in recent days.

"That has facilitated the reductions and releases from Lake Barkley, and Kentucky Lake, that are lowering the crest on the Ohio and the Mississippi," Rohrbach said.

Water levels on the lakes are several feet higher than they typically would be during the winter months.

That means there is less water flowing through the Cumberland River. Its level has dropped six feet since January 1, putting it just two feet about the limit that makes it navigable for vessels.

The Corps is also holding water on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, raising water to near flood levels on those storage projects, but they are still within the allowable limits of water storage.

"Every drop we keep out of the river means less flood water," Rohrbach said.

Any water kept out of Memphis will help the flooding situation in the Bluff City. The Mississippi River is expected to crest at 40.5 feet on Friday. That is more than six feet over flood stage.

The American Red Cross in Nashville sent two volunteers to Memphis Monday to assist in recovery efforts once the flooding starts.

"I'll get an overview of what's to take place. Then specifically, I'll go to the shelter, help set it up, manage the shelter, train people on how to take care of people in the shelter," said Ron Lanfear.

Lanfear is a volunteer with the Red Cross. He is ready to stay in Memphis for as long as he is needed.

"I've brought enough clothing, and stuff, so I can stay as long as needed. I would think two weeks is probably the length of time we're looking at," Lanfear explained.

The Red Cross has plans to send more volunteers from Nashville to Memphis later in the week when the gravity of the flooding situation there is clearer.