Mississippi River Flood of 2011 – biggest yet?

Oh cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do no good.
Oh cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do no good.
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose.

Written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

Dear River Rats,

As the third largest watershed on Earth, the Mississippi River drains the majority of the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. When this river starts to flood the risk of impending disaster is never far away. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States but as current models predict, the Flood of 2011 just might break that record. Having rowed a boat down the Mississippi River I have a first hand appreciation for the power that this mighty river can unleash. I also have many friends who live along this river who are being directly affected by this flood. Below is a collection of three key insights that will put this flood into perspective.



“Y’all, its happening, “Project Flood,” the highest water in the Lower Mississippi Valley since the record-breaking high water of 1937 is coming downstream towards us…No one really knows what will happen although we do trust that the levees have been maintained and are stronger than they were 70 years ago… The water has come up so fast and now suddenly there is an historic high looming on the horizon. The flood of 1927 was the result of eight months of sustained high waters, but the flood of 2011 has reared and appeared in the space of a month. What’s the difference? With the loss of wetlands and river floodplains there is less space for the water to flow in the greater Mississippi Valley.”

John Ruskey
Quapaw Canoe Company
Clarksdale, Mississippi

This is a map of the watershed so you can see how the drainage of the Mississippi is essentially one giant funnel heading for the Gulf of Mexico

“As if we have not had enough disasters and catastrophes lately we are now experiencing flooding of historic proportions in the Mississippi River Basin. NOAA released new projection on Monday May 2, 2011 that predicts that the Mississippi River flood levels will exceed the levels during the Great Flood of 1927; reaching a projected highest level ever recorded in Vicksburg MS. of 57.5 feet on May 18 (the 1927 crest was 56.2 feet)….A number of vulnerable communities along the river have already been evacuated in Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri… Let us hope that the levees hold. We don’t need any more disasters!”

Paul Orr
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

1927 flood

For 27 days in January 1937, rain drenched the northeastern United States. The unusually warm, wet weather thawed the frozen ground and sent torrents of water sheeting into the Ohio River. The effect was dramatic: towns throughout the region reported water levels quickly approaching, then passing, flood level. In some areas the water crested as high as 20 to 28 feet above flood stage. With national reports tallying the displaced at over one million people, the event confirmed the growing national fear that the great rivers that had contributed to the nation’s success might also threaten its future.

Kristi Dykema Cheramie
The Scale of Nature: Modeling the Mississippi River
The Design Observer Group

One thought on “Mississippi River Flood of 2011 – biggest yet?
  1. I didn’t realize that the current flood was so close to breaking the record of the flood in 1927. I guess that tells you how big this baby is – I hope the larger companies are looking into post-disaster services through professional companies like Immediate Response Group. They need to get on this right away to keep the surrounding economy from plummeting. It’s going to be bad enough as it is.

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