Memphis Area Will Be Soggy For Some Time
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Let's go next to Memphis, Tennessee, where the Mississippi River is at its highest level since the 1930s. More than 1,000 homes in low-lying areas are flooded, and the battle is not over. NPR's David Schaper reports.
DAVID SCHAPER: Eric Williams is standing behind his mother's house in the Frazier neighborhood of Memphis, looking out as floodwaters as far as he can see.
ERIC WILLIAMS: It's crazy. I mean, I've never seen it like that before. Literally it goes back for probably a few miles back there. It's flooded - seriously, it's bad.
SCHAPER: And the water is how close to her door?
WILLIAMS: About another two or three foot, it'll be flooding the house.
SCHAPER: The ranch-style house sits atop a slope, which is keeping it dry despite the vast amounts of water all around it from the overflowing Loosahatchie River. That tributary is getting a huge backflow from the Mississippi and its waters have nowhere else to go but towards homes like this one.
WILLIAMS: Well, if it starts getting up much higher, I think they're going to have to take the option of evacuating.
BOB NATIONS: It's not close to over.
SCHAPER: Bob Nations is director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness.
NATIONS: This is a nasty event. These are floodwaters. They're going to recede slowly. It's going to be rather putrid. It's going to be expensive to clean up. It's going to be labor intensive.
SCHAPER: Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton puts it this way...
WHARTON: It's not as if someone just reached in your bathtub and pulled a plug out and glug-glug-glug-glug(ph). That's not going to happen. It's going to stay here for a while.
SCHAPER: But Mayor Wharton points out that while the floods are devastating for some in Memphis, downtown in most of the rest of the city is high and dry.
WHARTON: Contrary to what is being perceived at the national and international level, we are not closed. Memphis is open.
SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News, Memphis.
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