Muddy Misery

The view upstream from the Columbia Mutual Tower in Memphis on February 9, 1937. Before it was confirmed by levees, the Mississippi overflow from the runoff of 31 states regularly created a lake almost as large as Ireland. (The Commercial Appeal)

February 12, 1937

For all its grandeur and utility, Big Muddy can be an angry, unpleasant neighbor, periodically flooding Memphis with misery. To put it bluntly, the city was a wreck as the Mississippi reached its highest level in history in Memphis. An estimated 2,000 families were forced from their homes by the Mississippi River’s record level; 30,000 people were housed in Red Cross refugee camps, many suffering flu. Frantic sandbag crews could not stay ahead of surging backwater and though E.H. Crump hadn’t held public office in two years, he led the fight against the water and for federal help.

This is not Memphis water. Some of it comes from New York state. It comes from all over the valley and it backs up around Memphis. The federal government should pay for protecting us just as they protect farms up and down the river with levees. There should be a seawall protecting North Front Street and levees and pumps protecting north and south Memphis.