Memphis crews preparing for heavy rain, possible flooding

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Mid-South is preparing for heavy rain and possible flooding throughout the rest of week.

Heavy rain will move into the Mid-South by Tuesday afternoon as a storm system develops over the western Gulf of Mexico and move north.

Another round of rain will move in Thursday night and continue off and on through Saturday.

Parts of the Mississippi River is already experiencing flooding, and the city is taking precautions in other parts of the areas.

City and county public works crews are getting ahead of the storm cleaning out catch basins, working overtime.

Flooding is expected to happen in low lying areas overnight.

The City of Memphis has enacted its Flood Control System, a series of levees with gates and pump stations will be used to remove storm water.

The challenge the city faces is the already swollen Mississippi has left little room for all this rain to go. The saturated ground will drain slowly, likely creating problems.

The city's public works director Robert Knecht says the Mississippi River has the biggest impact on our drainage system.

“The best thing we can do is keep those inlets and catch basins and those pipes open and flowing so all the storm water and rain that does happen can get out,” Knecht said.

“We expect some flooding in low lying areas, but we don't expect it to be a major flood,” said Brenda Jones, director of the Office of Preparedness.

Mid-South preparing for heavy rain, possible flooding

Public Works urges all to pitch in and help. If you know your yard floods or areas in your neighborhood, clean out storm drains of any debris, like sticks and leaves.

Right now, it's a big wait and see game as rain continues to fall in our area.

It's taking a team effort by the city and county public works crews to prevent widespread flooding.

“We've been in contact with public works form the city and also the county, having them remove any debris from some of those areas that have a potential for flooding,” Jones said.

“We also will be working overtime as the raining happens, so we’ll be able to respond to street flooding, yard flooding, and do what we can to resolve those issues,” Knecht said.

Remember, never drive through flooded road. It only takes six inches of water to move a vehicle.

Mississippi River expected to crest next Thursday

With heavy rainfall expected in the Mid-South, another flooding event experts are monitoring is the Mississippi River.

While rainfall this week will not affect river levels in Memphis, we are already seeing higher levels than normal.

However, the Mississippi River isn't expected to reach its highest point until later this week, although it has started to flood parts of Mud Island.

"The flood stage is set at 34 feet and that's usually when you start to have impacts,” said Andy Chiuppi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis. “Roads are closed. Waters running over certain areas."

Chiuppi said we're about two to three ahead of where we typically are this time of year.

"We're seeing a lot of that rain that fell maybe a month ago or the last couple of weeks upstream of us, up in the Ohio River Valley, coming down in addition to the rain we've been receiving here,” Chiuppi said.

Steve Barry with the Memphis District Corps of Engineers says the agency has deployed about 30 people to certain parts along the river – none yet in Memphis.

"We send our people out around 37 so we'll have some folks patrolling in the Memphis/West Memphis area starting next week,” Barry said.

Barry says they're looking for specific things when patrolling.

“We’re not worried about the levees being over topped,” Barry said. “We’re not worried about the levee or flood wall failing. We’re mainly worried about seepage issues.”

As the National Weather Service continues to monitor levels, Chiuppi wants to remind everyone to be mindful when traveling on roads near rivers.

"You need to be extra wary especially at night when you can’t see when your lights are reflecting off the road,” Chiuppi said.

The river’s current level 34.3 feet, and the flood stage is 34 feet.

It’s expected to crest at 37.5 feet by Thursday, Feb. 28 and will fall below flood stage on Wednesday, March 6.

We’ll continue to monitor the river flooding situation here in our area, and we’ll be the first to keep you updated.

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