MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Mississippi River continues to rise, so much so that its tributaries are starting to flow backwards. At Tom Lee Park, preps for Memphis in May continue knowing that the worst is still yet to come..
t's a site not often seen; the Wolf River and Nonconnah Creek are flowing backwards. The swelling river cannot take on much more water.
Gene Rench with the National Weather Service said all eyes are on the Mississippi. The tributaries flowing backwards are a big problem for the adjacent communities.
"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," he said. "We could flood many homes, businesses, close down factories, people could drown."
The river is more than two feet past flood stage; it rose two feet in the 24 hours following the storms. It's expected to crest at 45 feet around May 10th, right when Barbecue Festival teams are setting up their tents.
Memphis in May's Diane Hampton said they can deal with the forecasted 45 foot river. "At that point Tom Lee Park is not underwater; it's very close, but it's not flooded."
Hampton said they are preparing for the worst and looking at alternate locations for the Championship Cooking Contest, but remain confident it will stay downtown.
As for Music Fest, the only change is the city is pulling up the direct electricity and everything will run on generators.
"The river is not going to stop anything this weekend, other than the flood of people that's going to be down here," Hampton said.
Admittedly, she said the river has a mind of its own.
The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to out smart it by shutting down the Tennessee River and closing all other tributaries and dams that feed into the Mississippi.
According to Rench, "we're hoping and praying that the plans and actions that the Corp has taken, this strategy is going to work."
As the Mississippi River rises to near-record levels, Tunica's nine casinos will shut down indefinitely, displacing about 10,000 workers and costing millions in lost dollars. The closure orders were issued Wednesday to ensure the safety of visitors and workers.
All visitors must be off the property by 2 p.m. on the designated day. This anticipated closing schedule is based on current forecasts and is subject to change based on weather conditions.