Engineers keep close watch on Mississippi River levels - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Engineers keep close watch on Mississippi River levels

(WMC-TV) - Officials are keeping a close eye on the Mississippi River, as some communities see their river levels continue to rise due to repeated storms.

Tuesday, Jim Pogue of the Memphis District Army Corps of Engineers said the Mississippi River is at its highest level in decades.

"Here in the local Memphis area, we're working with local authorities to make sure they have the latest information and they're able to make good decisions to protect the public safety," he said.

Officials are inspecting flood walls and checking pumping stations along 25,000 square miles of the Mississippi River, from Cairo, Illinois to the mouth of the Arkansas' White River.  While some areas north of Memphis have already experienced river levels that exceed the great flood of 1937, the Army Corps of Engineers does not expect the Mid-South to experience that because local portions of the Mississippi are wider and can take more water.

The Mid-South is also clear of the levee system's greatest danger: Sand boils - welled up pressure caused by fast-moving water.

Tuesday morning, Poplar Bluff, Missouri and surrounding communities had to evacuate their homes, after a levee breach.  Pogue said the water would have to reach 58 feet to clear Mud Island in Memphis, and they don't expect that to happen.

But Pogue did have advice for the people of the Mid-South:

"Pay attention to the news and listen and make sure they stay abreast of what's going on," he said.

Pogue said officials aren't just monitoring the river after these latest storms, but will continue monitoring the river for the next couple of weeks.  The river usually swells more after storms due to runoff.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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