Entries in Flooding (47)


South Dakota Residents Urged to Evacuate Amid Pending Flooding

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PIERRE, S.D.) -- The governor of South Dakota is urging residents in three cities to leave their homes as flood waters from the Missouri River approach the state.

Although the evacuations are not mandatory, Gov. Dennis Daugaard wants people living in Pierre, Fort Pierre and Dakota Dunes to get out of the area by Thursday night.

"I ask that all residents in flood-threatened areas evacuate their homes by 8 p.m. on Thursday night," Gov. Daugaard said in a statement Wednesday, referring to residents in Pierre and Fort Pierre. "The Corps will begin to increase water levels on Friday morning, and releases will increase by 50 percent by June 5."

In a separate statement also issued on Wednesday, the governor said, "We hope that levees will protect Dakota Dunes from flooding, but residents should assume the worst.  Every homeowner should take individual action to secure their property and we recommend that they be ready to be out of Dakota Dunes by Thursday evening."

Police officers relayed the governor's request to residents Wednesday night, going door to door in the affected areas.

Despite the warning, some residents, like Jayme Deis in Pierre, are refusing to leave their homes.

"We're gonna stay here through Sunday and if it looks like we're gonna get into trouble then we'll pack up and leave," Deis said.  "We have everything ready to go so we can be out of here in four hours."

"I think the levees gonna hold fine. They're doing a really good job building it," he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Outlook Shows Stormy Season Ahead

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Forecasters are predicting an above normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, with up to 10 hurricanes and between 12 to 18 named storms. As many as six of those could become major storms -- with winds faster than 111 miles per hour -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday.

Hurricane season begins June 1. Coastal residents are urged to have a disaster plan ready.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Coast Guard Reopens 15-Mile Stretch of Mississippi River

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- The U.S. Coast Guard reopened on Tuesday a 15-mile section of the Mississippi River, north of New Orleans, that had been closed to prevent damage from flooding.

The portion was closed Sunday night "after reports of sand erosion near flood protection structures were originally thought to have been caused by vessel wakes," the Coast Guard said in a statement.  However, an underground pipe, not river traffic, now appears to be the culprit.

The Coast Guard will closely monitor any new traffic across the reopened section.  Passing will be limited to one vessel at a time, and ships must stay towards the center of the navigation channel, traveling at the slowest and safest speed possible.  Vessels will also be required to check in with the Coast Guard and get its permission before pass through the river.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Louisianans in Low-Lying Areas Brace for the Worst from Floods

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- To save Louisiana’s largest cities, some of the smallest ones will have to suffer.

By late Sunday night, the Army Corps of Engineers had opened nine flood gates at Louisiana's Morganza Spillway in a last-ditch attempt to relieve pressure on levees caused by the rapidly-rising waters of the Mississippi River.  The decision means New Orleans and Baton Rouge will be spared massive flooding.

However, it's estimated that thousands of homes in Louisiana's lowlands and millions of acres of farmlands will be submerged.

Residents living in Krotz Springs, Melville and other down river communities can do little now but gather what possessions they can and evacuate.

It was the great flood of 1927 that killed 246 people and swamped 165 million acres, leaving 600,000 people homeless, that led to creation of the Corp of Engineers.

They were authorized by the government to allow flood waters to flow from some levees in order to prevent a future catastrophic flood.  Then as now, that means keeping the most populated areas dry at the expense of less populated regions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mississippi Floods: Morganza Spillway Flood Gate Opened

ABC News(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- One gate along the Morganza spillway was opened Saturday afternoon by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sending gallons of water gushing through acres of rural farmland.
The single flood gate was opened in an effort to divert some of the water from the rising Mississippi River and spare big cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans from the devastation that flood waters can bring. There are some 125 gates that make up the spillway, and officials say at least two more gates could be opened by Sunday. Authorities say they expect the flood gates to stay open for up to three weeks.

If the gates remained closed and the levees along the Mississippi failed, Baton Rouge and New Orleans could both be flooded -- leaving a disaster worse than Katrina.

Inspectors are making daily checks of the levees that surround New Orleans.

"All indications are that the levees that have been inspected on a regular basis for some time, they're all holding and we are expecting them to do so," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Other low-lying areas are not faring as well. The Mississippi River has been breaking high-water records that have stood since the 1920s and '30s.

President Obama is expected to meet with families affected by flooding along the river when he travels to Memphis, Tenn., on Monday. Friday, Republicans on the House Appropriations panel awarded $850 million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency  (FEMA) for disaster payments.

The Coast Guard also is likely to close the river to barge traffic next week, costing the U.S. economy $295 million a day. It's just the latest in a costly year of extreme weather disasters.

The massive Mississippi floods -- a seven-state, 560-mile liquid trail -- are adding to the nation's laundry list of expensive destruction. Already, there have been five separate billion-dollar storms and floods this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC New Radio 

Mississippi River Floods Millions of Acres of Farmland

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- It could be weeks before all the flooding is over in the deep south.  During the interim, residents can only pray that Mississippi River flooding doesn't disrupt more lives than it already has.

Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi are hardest hit by the floods, with three million acres already swamped by water from the river and its tributaries.  The misery is being felt in particular by Arkansas farmers as they assess the damage from over a million acres of farmland currently underwater.

For now, the National Weather Service is predicting that the Mississippi will crest on or about May 21 at an estimated 64 feet. 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is getting his state prepared for the worst of it from next Sunday through the following weekend.  In the meantime, new water level records are being set literally by the hour.

Memphis was threatened earlier in the week but didn't experience flooding as bad as expected, even as the Mississippi crested just a few inches shy of 48 feet, which is the record set in 1937.

The flooding hasn't ruined plans for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest this Saturday, which will attract visitors from all over the South.

One Memphis tourist official said that while the river looks like an ocean now, "some people have this misconception that we're floating around on life rafts."  He said the city is basically high and dry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What's in the Mississippi Floodwaters?

Creatas/Thinkstock(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- The great Mississippi River flood of 2011, cresting south of Memphis Wednesday, carries a mix of fertilizer, oil, pesticides, trash and farm runoff as it flows toward the Gulf of Mexico, say public health officials.

Some of it is nasty stuff, and officials say people are wise to be careful. They urge people not to touch the water unless they're wearing rubber boots and gloves, and wash thoroughly if they get wet.

"There could be a lot of untreated sewage coming downstream," said Wilma Subra, an environmental scientist and activist in Louisiana who has tangled with oil and chemical companies. "People need to be aware."

ABC News arranged some testing of its own, taking water samples from two places along the river to a laboratory near Memphis. E. coli and coliform -- commonly found in untreated waste water -- were 2,000 times acceptable limits. The lab did not find gasoline, oil or chemical toxins. There were trace levels of heavy metals, but no more than would be found ordinarily, the lab reported.

Subra said she would be concerned if the giant Morganza Spillway were opened upriver from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It would protect the cities, but flood the wetlands of southern Louisiana. And it could be a health issue as people return to flooded homes to clean up.

"When in doubt, throw it out," said the Tennessee Department of Health in an advisory to people trying to clear out their homes when the water goes down. "Flood water picks up numerous contaminants from roads, farms, factories and storage buildings, including sewage and chemicals."

The state also warned that standing water provides a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Perhaps the largest effect: the overflow of nutrients into the Gulf of Mexico is likely to create an unusually large "dead zone" -- a giant patch of water off the Texas-Louisiana coast where fish and other marine creatures lack enough oxygen to survive. A dead zone forms there almost every July and August, but scientists said it will be bigger this year because algae, feeding on the excess fertilizer, will bloom and then die, choking off the oxygen supply.

Cities and towns in 31 states use water that flows into the Mississippi River Basin, many of them releasing treated wastewater into tributaries of the Mississippi. Engineers worried that sewage treatment plants could be overwhelmed by floodwaters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pets Rescued from Southern Flooding, Tornadoes Need Homes

Comstock/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- The tornado outbreak that struck the southeastern United States two weeks ago was the worst one in nearly 40 years.

At least 248 people were killed in Alabama; 34 in Mississippi; 34 in Tennessee; 15 in Georgia; five in Virginia; two in Louisiana; and one in Kentucky.

But the situation was not just devastating for people.  Hundreds of pets were abandoned or stranded, and many families that were left homeless were forced to relinquish their animals, said Beth Ostrosky Stern of the North Shore Animal League.

The Port Washington, New York organization deployed emergency rescue teams to help hard-hit animal shelters in Alabama.  The teams rescued dozens of animals.  The pets were brought to New York and given medical and emotional evaluations.  They will be put up for adoption on May 12.

North Shore is the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world, according to its website.  The organization works with a national network of shelter and rescue partners and provides information, education, and resources about pet adoption.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mississippi Rising: Man-Made or Mother Nature?

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- As the Mississippi River continues to rise and the threat of flooding moves south with the current, many critics of the Army Corps of Engineers are blaming man rather than Mother Nature for the high water.

"This is largely a man-made disaster -- to point it only to rainfall is naive," said H.J. Bosworth Jr., civil engineer and director of research for "Yes, there was lots of rainfall, but there was also lots of development. Every time you build a parking lot or a Walmart you add to the burden of the drainage system and all that drainage goes into the Mississippi River."

Bosworth says many parts of the water system including the levees were built prior to the creation of the fully developed urban areas and that this transition from soil to cement created major problems.

"If the rainfall increased in a forest the forest is going to suck up 90 percent of that rainfall. But if it happens in a urban area the pavement and roofs aren't going to suck up anything," Bosworth told ABC News.

The affect is multiplied on the mighty Mississippi because rivers in 31 states drain into it or its tributaries.

Robert Criss, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, attributes the rise in devastating floods to the continued constriction of the waterways and increased building in vulnerable areas. He says that as levees continue to be built higher it creates water that has enough power to tear through a landscape like a tsunami if the levee is breached, destroying everything in its path.

Both Criss and Bosworth agree that part of the problem is inaccurate assessments by the Corps.

"There are plenty of people living in designated 100-year flood plain areas and by government standards that's more like 10-year flood estimates," said Criss. "Every year is a 10-year flood now or worse...In terms of the Army Corps of Engineers' flood statistics I was able to show that there's not one chance in a thousand that their statistics are correct."

According to Criss, the "fraudulent statistics" encourage people to live in flood plains because based on the Corps' assessment, people receive subsidized insurance and other financial benefits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mississippi Flooding: River Cresting, Louisiana Preps for Rising Waters

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- As the swollen Mississippi River continues to rush downstream, flood-level water is heading directly for some Louisiana communities still recovering from last year's devastating oil spill and possibly forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate. Many neighborhoods of Memphis, Tenn., remain submerged in dirty, debris-strewn and reptile-infested water.

The National Weather Service said the Mississippi River has reached 47.85 feet.

The river will continue to press against Memphis levees for at least the next few days, officials said. The Mississippi there has swollen to six times its average width.

Further south, residents of Vidalia, La., have been warned to start working on an evacuation plan. City officials have already evacuated the local hospital. Vidalia is directly located across the river from Natchez, Miss.

Officials said the river is expected to crest at a record level there on May 21. Businesses owners and residents have been preparing for the worst by filling sandbags.

Record flooding is also expected in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

In Memphis, though the river has crested, the danger of flooding has not disappeared. While the river's maximum elevation may have been reached, officials said they will continue to monitor the levees. Authorities expected the levees will protect the city's landmarks, Graceland and Beale Street.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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