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MS River continues historic rise

Cities from Memphis to New Orleans plan evacuations, flooding fighting

MEMPHIS (UPI) | May 8, 2011

The mighty Mississippi was reaching crest stage Sunday in the Memphis area where evacuation orders were already in effect, weather forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said all of Shelby County was under a flood warning Sunday, and residents living inside the 100-year flood plain should be packed up and ready to head to higher ground, if not out already.

"Flood waters may also rise into neighborhoods through storm drains," the Memphis mayor's office said in a written statement. "Conditions will worsen each day through at least the middle of next week."

NWS meteorologist Bill Borghoff told CNN the river was on course to crest shortly after midnight Tuesday at 48 feet. That's 14 feet above flood stage and just 7 inches short of the all-time record set in 1937.

"Essentially, we're beginning to crest now," said Borghoff. "This is a pretty significant event."

Borghoff warned the river could remain above flood stage around Memphis into June.

CNN said downriver in Louisiana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned to open a spillway into Lake Pontchartrain Monday to divert some of the water barreling toward New Orleans.

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