Mud Island residents watch rising Mississippi River warily

Water approaching homes on Mud Island; MS River at flood stage
Published: Jan. 2, 2016 at 11:45 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2016 at 4:01 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Flood waters are approaching homes on Mud Island.

The water from the Mississippi River and its tributaries is coming close to homes in the Harbor Town neighborhood.

"We personally visited flood-prone areas today. We noted water is near some homes and apartments on Marina Cottage Drive that border the Wolf River Marina. As a precaution, City of Memphis firefighters will go door-to-door to notify residents about the high water threat," Director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness Dale Lane said.

Other high water areas include:

  • Big Creek at Highway 51, Fite Road and Woodstock-Cuba
  • Loosahatchie River at Highway 51 and Watkins
  • Wolf River near Hollywood, the north leg of Interstate 240, and at Rodney Baber Park along James Road
  • Nonconnah Creek near Presidents Island

The Shelby County Office of Preparedness has a list of areas that could possibly flood here.

Office of Preparedness employees are also watching water levels at Tom Lee Park and Greenbelt Park. They closed the boat ramp on Mud Island and the ones at Shelby Forest.

The Mississippi River has officially reached flood stage in Memphis at 34 feet. It is expected to crest at 41 feet on January 8. In 2011, flood waters reached a crest of 48.3 feet.

"The Shelby County Emergency Operations Center is now open 24-hours, utilizing staff at the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. Should high water block main roads and damage properties, personnel from public works, law enforcement, fire, emergency services and other agencies will join our staff," Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. said.

Monday, January 4, the City of Memphis will barricade Second Street from Whitney and Mud Island Drive and the access road to the Stiles Water Treatment Plant.

The flooding has residents of Harbor Town on edge.

"Nervous, very nervous. It's less than a foot from my house now," Lori Wyckoff said.

Wyckoff lives in Harbor Town and said when she looks out her window each morning, she cannot believe what she sees.

"It almost looks like were on a stilt house in the water," she said. "It's that high."

Wyckoff has been tracking the progress each day. Just days ago, shrubs and a guard rail in the parking lot were clearly visible. Now, they are almost completely underwater.

"Every time you come home, it's closer. It's making me nervous."

Wyckoff said now is the time to prepare in case the water keeps rising.

"Right now I've got all of my storage unit in totes and I'm prepared to bring it upstairs," Wyckoff said.

Wyckoff said she bought bottled water in case the water is contaminated and in case of evacuation, she is ready to leave her home. Until then, she said she is hoping for the best.

"I hope the river crests very soon and stops," Wyckoff said.

Residents on Marina Cottage Drive said they have seen ducks and fish swimming in their backyards—a sight they are not used to.

"It's crazy. I'm afraid it's going to crest over and get into the playground area because we come here all the time," said resident Curt Stepp.

Stepp said he is afraid that the playground his family comes to every week could soon be filled with water. The water is rising at an alarming rate and residents said it was not expected.

"I thought it was going to be dried up and we can go out there and play today, but it came fast," Stepp said.

Phillip Von Holtezdortf-Fehling feared the water could destroy his air conditioning units. His family recently built a cement wall around his yard. The first landing is about four feet off the ground, and water is already over that landing.

"It would be pretty bad to be evacuated, so we don't want that," Holtezdortf-Fehling said.

The Coast Guard is watching the rising Mississippi River and working to keep boaters safe.

Officials placed over 500 miles between Caruthersville, Missouri, and Natchez, Mississippi, under a high water safety advisory.

In addition, there is a safety zone between mile markers 737 and 734, near Memphis.

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