Breakdown: A look back at Mississippi River flood of May 2011

Breakdown: A look back at Mississippi River flood of May 2011

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Eight years ago, the Mississippi River rose past its banks and flooded parts of the Mid-South, becoming one of the largest and most damaging recorded floods along the river in the past century.

During the year 2011, a pair of major storm systems rocked the U.S. dumping record levels of rainfall along the Mississippi River watershed. Add that water, with the springtime snowmelt, together this caused the rivers and tributaries to rise to record levels.

In Memphis, the river reached its highest level, 48.03 feet on May 10, 2011. This was the second-highest reading since 1937 when the river reached a record 48.7 feet.

Many local rivers in the city of Memphis overflowed its banks, including Big Creek, the Loosahatchie River, the Wolf River, and along Nonconnah Creek. There was also flooding in parts of Millington, Frayser, Bartlett, and East Memphis.

To put things in perspective, during the 2011 flood, Beale Street Landing went under at 45 feet of water, parts of Riverside Drive went under water at 46 feet, and all of Tom Lee Park went underwater at 47 feet.

Over in Arkansas, Interstate 40 experienced flooding west of Memphis along the White River between Hazen and Brinkley, causing the interstate to close. The Black River in Northeast Arkansas caused major flooding, as levees broke, flooding many homes in the area.

Mississippi communities were also hit hard in 2011. Flooding took place inside and around various casinos. In fact, the Mississippi Gaming Commission and gaming executives closed the casinos to try and protect the casino property and people visiting the resorts.

Once the Mighty Mississippi finally lowered, the damage was surveyed, and it was devastating. According to the Insurance Journal, in total nearly $2.8 billion in damage occurred. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ system of levees, reservoirs and flood ways were tested like never before, exposing vulnerabilities that have been reinforced to this day.

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