President Barack Obama on Monday declared a major disaster exists in the State of Tennessee and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, and straight-line winds on April 4. President Barack Obama on Monday declared a major disaster exists in the State of Tennessee and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, and straight-line winds on April 4.
|Water overflowing the banks of the Mississippi River floods the intersection of Riverside Drive and Beale Street in downtown Memphis. On Monday (May 9) this was one of about 50 roads closed due to flooding. A full list of road closures can be found on the website of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness www.staysafeshelby.us. (Photo by Brian Ramoly)
Wolf River, an alluvial stream that flows into the Mississippi River
north of downtown Memphis, wreaked its havoc on this row of houses
located along Midway Drive in North Memphis near Harrison Street on
Saturday morning. (Photo by Scott Banbury)
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named W. Montague Winfield as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Meanwhile, the Mississippi River was expected to crest at 48 feet in Memphis on Tuesday, with officials warning that the crest does not signal the end of danger.
Flood of the century raises concerns for North Memphis residents
When the subject of historic flooding in Memphis is brought up, two major floods come to mind.
The first one is the Flood of 1927, which according to some historians, became a factor in rural African-Americans fleeing the South as part of the Great Migration due to rampant bigotry in recovery efforts from officials in the flood’s aftermath.
And the second major flooding incident is the Record Flood of 1937, which caused the Mississippi River to overflow due in part to the runoff from 31 different states increasing the size to the point in which it was as large as the country of Ireland.
For some, the so-called “Flood of the Century” that now threatens the Memphis area is a marvel captured in pictures of the Mississippi River rising in downtown Memphis this past weekend. The concerns run deeper for others, such as residents in North Memphis.
“The current walls that are along Chelsea,” said resident and environmental activist Scott Banbury on Saturday morning, “were built because of the Great Flood of 1937. Although those walls will do a good job of keeping flood damage to a minimum along Chelsea, floodwalls are being built near Chelsea and Evergreen as well as near Chelsea and McLean.”
DA warns against flood victim abuse
muscle up to fill sandbags on site at the Pyramid, a downtown Memphis
landmark, with the rising Mississippi River expected to crest in Memphis
at 48 feet on Tuesday, May 10. (Photo by Tyrone P. Easley)
May 8, 1925, Tom Lee, an African-American levee worker who could not
swim, rescued 32 people from the Mississippi River. Now the park named
in Lee’s honor is filled with floodwaters that have risen to
the base of this memorial – one of two that note
Lee’s heroics. (Photo by Tyrone P. Easley)
The Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office urges everyone to be vigilant. Safety is of primary concern. Unfortunately, some individuals may attempt to take advantage of our citizens in their time of need. As a precaution, District Attorney Amy Weirich has issued the following statement:
“While countless Shelby County citizens work tirelessly to minimize flood damage, there are those who may view this as an opportunity to exploit vulnerable victims. Those who choose to turn flood victims into crime victims will be met with tough prosecution by the District Attorney’s Office.”
Red Cross to the rescue
The American Red Cross continues to prepare for the predicted emergency and disaster response resulting from the Mississippi River flooding. Water and snacks are being provided to people in flood affected neighborhoods, sandbaggers, and first responders. In addition, two shelters were opened for the public. There are currently five shelters opened total in the Mid-South Tennessee region:
First Assembly of God – 730 E. Court Street, Dyersburg, Tenn
White Station Church of Christ – 1106 Colonial Road, Memphis.
World Overcomers - 6655 Winchester Rd, Memphis
Ridgeway Assembly of God - 3150 Ridgeway, Memphis
G. W. Henderson - 1165 Abbay, Tunica, Miss.
Safe and Well resource: The Red Cross Safe and Well secure Web site is a way to let your loved ones know you are safe and to find information about people in the affected areas. To register, visit www.redcross.org and click on the “List Yourself or Search Registrants” link under “How to Get Help”. People in the affected areas can list themselves as “safe and well” on the site. Friends and family outside the disaster area can then search for messages from their loved ones by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Disaster victims can also update their Facebook and Twitter status through the Safe and Well Web site. From a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link.
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for floods by:
|Flooding forced the closing of this intersection at Highway 51 (Thomas) and Watkins in the Frayser area last Friday (Photo by Warren Roseborough)|
|The Memphis Mobile City trailer park located on Highway 51 in Frayser was flooded out last Friday with residents forced to temporarily relocate. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)|
• Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents and other emergency items for the whole family.
• Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A food WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
• Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
For more information on flood preparedness, contact the Mid-South Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross at (901) 726-1690 visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS. We urge you to share these Red Cross flood preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.
Memphis Salvation Army prays for best, prepares for the worst
The Salvation Army has been busy serving throughout the Southeast, including Tennessee in the aftermath of the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak. On Monday morning (May 9), The Salvation Army sent in additional personnel to assist ongoing efforts in the Memphis area as the floodwaters continue to rise.
To date, the Memphis Area Command disaster response has provided over 3,600 hot meals and over 10,000 snacks and drinks. Salvation Army Mobile Feeding Units (canteens) from Memphis, Jackson, Tenn., and Owensboro, Ky,. serve in those areas affected by the flooding.
“As we continue to assess the needs in the Memphis area, we pray for the best but prepare for the worst, said Major Mark Woodcock, Memphis Area Commander.
There are a variety of ways to donate monetarily to the relief effort. Donors can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) or visit the Salvation Army Memphis website: www.salvationarmymemphis.org.
Text to give is also available by texting the word “give” to 80888; a $10 donation will appear on your cell phone bill. Other monetary donations should be sent to The Salvation Army, 696 Jackson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105; please mark them "May Floods."
For additional information, contact Major Mark Woodcock at (901) 299-8235.
Information links & numbers:
Shelby County Office of Preparedness: www.staysafeshelby.us
Also, citizens may call (901) 324-8799 or text (901)-290-7530 for additional information.
Memphis/Shelby County Emergency Management Agency: www.mscema.org.