Will Midwest floodwaters swamp Mid-South?

As areas of the Midwest struggle with flooding, Mid-South growers wonder what will happen when those floodwaters head south. Only those with crops on the riverside of the Mississippi River levee need to worry, said Jim Pogue, press liaison with the Army Corps of Engineers Memphis office.

Among Pogue’s comments on June 20:

On the Memphis District’s geography…

“The Memphis District is from Cairo, Ill., to the mouth of the White River in Arkansas. That includes about 355 river miles.

“We’re not expecting any significant flooding (due to the Midwest water reaching the Mid-South). Actually, the river will be much lower than it was in March.

“We may see some agricultural flooding within the levee system. But even that may not happen. Regardless, any flooding (on the riverside of the levee) won’t be as significant as it was in March. Certainly, there won’t be anything close to the out-of-the-banks flooding then — probably close to 10 feet less.”

How is that possible with the flooding further north?

“There are a number of reasons.

“One is the water heading downstream is from the Upper and Missouri River basins. Those contribute less to what we get in Memphis than what comes from the Ohio River. We usually get about two-thirds of our water from the Ohio River and the last third from the Upper and Missouri River basins.

“Second, we started out with a lower river gauge (in Memphis) when the Midwest flooding began.

“Third, once south of Cairo, we can handle more water. The larger capacity here is something like 2.5 times more than on the upper Mississippi River.

“Fourth, we haven’t had as much interior rainfall. There isn’t the backwater flooding like that which occurred in March. Back then we had higher (Mississippi) River flows coming downstream plus a lot of interior water that couldn’t run off.”

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