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Memphis neighbourhoods flooded

16 May 2011 09:50

Memphis neighbourhoods have been hit following the Mississippi River floods

Memphis neighbourhoods have been hit following the Mississippi River floods

Hundreds of people have been driven from their homes after the the Mississippi River expanded to levels not seen since the 1930s and swamped properties in low-lying neighbourhoods.

Officials said they are confident that the levees will protect the most famous musical landmarks in Memphis, such as Graceland and Beale Street. They also predicted that no new areas would have any serious flooding.

Tourists planning on heading to the area should secure single trip travel insurance in case their plans are ruined by the flooding.

While people in Memphis wait for the river to crest at a projected mark slightly lower than the record set in 1937, officials in Louisiana have begun evacuating prisoners from the state's toughest jail and opened floodgates to relieve pressure on levees outside New Orleans.

Authorities have gone door-to-door to 1,300 homes in Memphis over the past few days warning people to leave, but attention is now turning to a labour-intensive clean up, which signals that the worst is probably over.

Cory Williams, chief of geotechnical engineering for the Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis, said: "Where the water is today, is where the water is going to be."

Exactly how many people heeded the warnings was not immediately clear, but more than 300 people were staying in shelters and police stepped up patrols in evacuated areas to prevent looting.

"I want to say this: Graceland is safe. And we would charge hell with a water pistol to keep it that way and I'd be willing to lead the charge," said Bob Nations, director of the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency.