The rising waters of the Mississippi River are getting so high that tributaries to the largest river in North America are starting to flow backwards, according a report from a local Fox affiliate in Memphis, Tenn. The report cites Gene Rench of the National Weather Service, who says the river is headed for an “epic flood.”
"Right now the Mississippi River is in the process of going through what we call an epic flood, meaning it's more than historic, it's more than a 100 year flood, it's more like a 500 year flood," Rench told My Fox Memphis.
The rising waters are expected to crest in most areas along the Mississippi sometime in mid-May.
While President Obama has declared states of emergency throughout counties in the south hit by tornadoes that have killed more than 300 people, now areas along the Mississippi River are reaching out for more federal assistance due to the torrential rain.
“The Mississippi River will reach historic levels over the next few weeks,” said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in statement on Tuesday.
Barbour also reached out for a disaster declaration for 11 counties. With a disaster declaration comes federal relief money, though it does not cover individuals affected.
On Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called on the federal government for funding 1,500 National Guard soldiers who are serving on active duty in response to flooding along the Mississippi River and Atchafalaya River, a distributary of the Mississippi River.
Many states along the Mississippi River have had to make the tough call of exploding levies or opening spillways that allow for flooding to occur at lower ground areas in order to prevent flooding at higher ground areas that may be more populous. Such a strategy was already used earlier this week in Mississippi by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Gov. Jindal said there is a “significant probability” that the Corps will also open Louisiana’s Morganza Spillway for the first time since 1973.
The spillway opening “will flood the Atchafalaya Basin, necessitating a significant evacuation operation,” Jindal said in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday. “Flooding from the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers will threaten lives and cause catastrophic damage to personal property, and businesses as well as state and federal infrastructure located within the projected flood zone.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday asked President Obama to authorize emergency funding of $10 million to assist the state and local authorities with evacuation preparedness and activities in West Tennessee due to flooding that he said began on April 21.
"Our priority right now is saving lives and protecting property in West Tennessee as we continuously monitor the flooding situation," Haslam said.
The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for areas near water as south as Louisiana and as north as Minnesota and North Dakota, directing residents to stay attentive.
"Vigilance will be required if you live in a flood zone near any area river," the NWS said. "Please continue to closely monitor the latest flood warnings issued. ... Also continue to heed warnings from local emergency management officials with regard to specific flood areas and possible evacuations."