Memphis, History & Politics

Thursday, May 12, 2011

We're Hip Deep in Reporters in Hip Waders - Look Out New Orleans!

The most interesting and worrisome story of the current Mississippi River flooding is what may happen to New Orleans and Louisiana and the 80 year old technology they have to combat it. But first, a look at the news people who descended on Memphis to cover the flood. Waders, waders, waders, waders and waders. To be fair, Julie Martin is only in hip boots, but then The Weather Channel doesn't tend to go over the top like the majors. There are hundreds in shelters displaced by the flooding, but all the businesses are open. Virtually all roads will get you where you want to go, and the bigger fear of this flood is not the damage done by flood waters, but the damage to tourism from the news media (h/t David).

As Memphis mayor A.C. Wharton points out to skittish tourists, Memphis was built on a bluff some 78 feet above the Mississippi River. Most of the cities on the Mississippi sit atop bluffs with one notable exception: New Orleans. Right now, the news media is following the cresting flood waters down river where actual flooding will occur. The only questions is where. Within days a decision will have to be made whether to take the risk on levee system that protects New Orleans (!) or open the Moragnza Spillway for only the second time ever and deliberately flood Morgan City, LA. If you're a nerd and want to read a comprehensive article starting from where all the water came from to why the spillway system itself might fail check out this article. For minute by minute updates, check out And for news reports that breathlessly tell you "Look How High the Water Is" just wait a few days and turn on your TV. They'll be coming from New Orleans. If the Morganza Spillway is opened and the flooding happens down the Atchafalaya River, don't expect much. Rural Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana don't have direct flights to New York, and while those areas are most impacted by this flood they don't show up on Al Roker's radar, so to speak. The reporter in hip wader flood appears likely to follow the major airports.


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