This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s called the Mighty Mississippi for a reason. After days of rain, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the river at Memphis could reach its fourth-highest level since they began keeping records. Tuesday morning, WREG was on the Mississippi River with a team from the Corps. They’re inspecting levees, flood walls, pumping stations to make sure that everything is functioning as it should be, said Jim Pogue, chief of public affairs with the Memphis District Army Corps of Engineers. Tall trees could be seen sunken in the swollen river. It’s clear the water is high, but not at its highest.
The Army Corps of Engineers told us the highest flood on record was 48.7 feet in 1937. Many Memphians remember the floods from 2011, when the Mississippi River came in at 48.03 feet. “So we’re expecting the river to come up to about 41 feet on the Memphis gauge this time. So based on where the river is right now, that’s about another foot-and-a-half by early next, week” Pogue said. The red steps of Beale Street landing are currently at about 60 feet deep. In the summer months it’s around 15 feet deep. Pogue says typically, when the river is within its natural banks, it’s about seven-tenths of a mile wide in Memphis. “When the river comes up like this, it can be as much as three to four miles wide,” Pogue said. The work this team is doing is crucial. They’ve been monitoring the river, levees, pumping stations and flood walls and working on the Flood Risk Reduction System since 1928. “In 1927 we had a huge flood. Many hundreds of people were killed and countless thousands were homeless for weeks,” Pogue said. From there, Congress instilled the Flood Control Act of 1928. Realizing communities couldn’t handle the river alone, the Army Corps of Engineers stepped in. Since then, they’ve been monitoring the river system. The team said things look good, so far. But they say it’s always important to stay up to date and informed.