Image: Mississippi River Flooding 2011
Jim Weber / Zuma Press

TODAY   |  May 05, 2011

Mississippi threatens historic floods

Residents in Memphis, Tenn., are preparing for the worst as the Mississippi River swells to what could become its highest level in nearly a century. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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>> mississippi river is flooding to what could become its highest levels in nearly a centu century. ron mott is there where residents are preparing for the worst. ron, good morning.

>> good morning. they say the mississippi should crest next wednesday. while they may not set a record, it will be the highest water level seen here in nearly 75 years. call it a shovel-ready project in memphis as residents brace for floodwater to spill out of the mississippi river onto downtown streets and into homes and businesses.

>> if these sandbags save something i'm going to feel awesome.

>> reporter: upstream, major flooding, prompting evacuations. the rescue of a 93-year-old driver and the army corps of engineers blowing up the area to minimize. more than 130,000 acres of missouri farmland were intentionally flooded. farmers are furious and fear huge financial losses.

>> i guess they got the last nerves i had left.

>> reporter: the flood zone is anticipated to your top banks among much of the river's length from minnesota to the mouth of the gulf of mexico with 11 locations in six states recording new record crests.

>> do you have flood insurance ?

>> no, with do not have flood insurance .

>> reporter: it's moving day for jean, with water close to entering her cottage downtown.

>> we have a beautiful spot. we are going to be leaving. we are going to be flooded.

>> reporter: later today the army core of joops of engineers is expected to detonate the third and final opening of the levee and they prepare to make use of the floodgates downstream to keep as many people from flooding.

>> our thoughts are with those people fighting that. thank you.