With the Mississippi River approaching record high water levels, people are already starting to compare it to the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. However, Southerners and Memphis residents won’t go down without a fight: Memphis Mayor AC Wharton says that his city is more than ready. Forecasters are now saying that the Mississippi River could crest late Monday, which is hours sooner than originally expected, at a staggering 48 feet. Wharton says that lessons from past disasters, such as Katrina, have shown city officials the importance of going door-to-door to warn residents. They are also taking care to patrol neighborhoods to prevent looting.
Oddly enough, the flooding of the Mississippi River is driving out residents–but seems to be attracting tourists. The river is “probably the biggest tourist attraction in Memphis,” says Scott Umstead, who drove from Collierville with his family to see it. However, residents are fleeing their homes and seeking refuge at shelters, churches and gymnasiums. A pastor at Hope Presbyterian, a mega-church east of Memphis, says: “The need is huge. From what I’m hearing, the river is going up even more, so within a few days or whatnot, we’re going to be seeing even more people coming in.” One can only hope that the damage won’t be anywhere close to what Hurricane Katrina did, but residents can only prepare as much as they can, watch, and wait. Are tourists stupid to drive to Memphis to see the water while residents are heading in the oppposite direction?