On flooding in the Mid-South…

“The crest has passed the Memphis area, now. There was flooding damage to homes – but that was backwater. The levees held as they were designed to do.

“As we move into the Yazoo Basin, there is a backwater area with a levee designed to overtop in major floods. That is likely to happen and people will incur much damage in that backwater area.

“A lot of land in that backwater is already planted. I drove that area – from Vicksburg, Miss., to Greenville, Miss. – two days ago. How much goes underwater depends on how much water the crest brings. But a lot of crops will be lost and homes flooded.

“But, again, that’s part of the design of the whole (levee) system to bring such a flood safely down.”

On Louisiana flooding…

“Farther south, the next major spot is New Orleans. There is a floodway right above New Orleans – Bonnet Carre – designed to be opened to take water out of the river to reduce stages as the crest moves past the city.

For more, see Louisiana flooding: evacuations, massive loss, crop insurance questions.

“Bonnet Carre has already been operated. It is a controlled spillway that can be opened in segments. It is not yet totally open.

“At the Old River structure, the Atchafalaya splits off from the Mississippi River. Down towards the end of that is the Morganza floodway. That floodway may be activated and is designed to protect the mainline levee.

“If the Morganza is used, there are people living there and there are crops. They will suffer from flooding if the spillway is used.

“That’s unlike the Bonnet Carre, where there are no structures. The federal government actually owns the land inside that floodway.

“The main point is that the system is designed to carry a major flood through the levees from Cairo, Ill., to the Gulf. The reason we use all the floodways – and they’re used in a controlled manner and those in them are given time to get out – is they were unused and a major levee overtopped or broke, there would be people unprepared. In that circumstance, there would be loss of life and much more damage to many more structures.

“Knock on wood, so far we’re safely passing the largest flood in our history.”