The Mississippi has held Memphis hostage for several weeks now. Built high on a bluff, the downtown was safe from flooding. Only Riverside Drive and the elegant homes on Mud Island down there risked being submerged. Neither faired well. On Mud Island the first floors of many lovely homes became new breeding grounds for catfish. And snakes. Riverside Drive was closed as the Big Muddy leaked across its edges.
Memphis in May moved the Championship Barbeque Festival down the street from us to the fairgrounds. It normally resides at Tom Lee Park. In 1925, an african-american named Tom Lee saved thirty-two people from a sinking steamboat. He rowed a tiny boat across the strong currents of the Mississippi to get to them. He could not swim. A monument to his bravery is the central point of the park.
It's nearly been swallowed by the water. The current came up quickly as I was standing there. One second, I was dry. The next, I was enveloped in the thick brown of the river.
The waters have begun to receed here in the Bluff City. The rice fields of Arkasas are coming back into view. Downtown is drying out.
But the barge traffic is still having a rough go of it. We watched as a fully loaded one barely squeaked under the M Bridge.
He probably would have had an easier time if he had taken Riverside Drive.
*My heart goes out to the people of Mississippi and Louisiana as the River
makes her might known to them.*