Hydrologist: No Flood Danger for Lower Mississippi

June 27, 2008

While the Midwest continues its struggles with Mississippi River flooding and its aftermath, residents to the south along the Lower Mississippi have little to fear from the high water.

The Lower Mississippi, which begins at Cairo, Ill., is much deeper and wider that the river’s upper stretches through Illinois, Iowa and Missouri where flooding has caused at least 24 deaths and millions of dollars in damage.

“Our river is different from theirs. We have a much bigger flood plain. We have a better protected flood plain with our levee system and flood walls,” said Dave Beretta, a hydrologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Lower Mississippi, Beretta said, can carry more than 21/2 times the volume of water that the Upper Mississippi can handle.

Memphis, the largest city beside the Lower Mississippi, sits on high bluffs and faces little danger of flooding even when the river is at its highest and well above what the Corps considers flood stage.

At flood stage or “full bank,” the Lower Mississippi is still within its levee system, with flooding restricted to flood plains designed to take on high water.

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