Nightly News   |  May 04, 2011

Flooding hits record highs in six states

From the Heartland down to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River is forcing evacuations – as well as killing farmers’ livelihoods. NBC’s Ron Mott reports from Memphis.

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>>> flooding in the midwest is at such crisis levels, it's led to some extreme measures. as we told you last night, government engineers are actually blowing up levees to direct water away from inundated areas, and some areas of population, but that's causing more problems downstream, and there are big fears for places like memphis in the days ahead. ron mott is there for us tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening to you. officials in arkansas today discovered the body of a man in floodwaters there. in memphis , the mississippi is expected to crest next wednesday. it will be the highest water level here in nearly 75 year said. the milsz miss is earning her mighty nickname, the spring. prompting the army corps of engineers to blow up levees to minimize flooding.

>> i never dreamed it would actually help us.

>> still, neighborhoods in kentucky and elsewhere are filling up with water, stranding people and pets, forcing evacuations, catching some motorists like this 93-year-old driver off guard.

>> public safety is the number one issue when we make our decisions.

>> more than 130,000 acres of missouri farmland were intentionally flooded. farmers are furious.

>> i guess they got the last nevers i have left.

>> the old mississippi river gets on a rampage every now and then.

>> reporter: one expert said the corps made the right call.

>> it's the worst one we have ever had. our job now is to get the water to the gulf of mexico with the least amount of damage to anybody and get it down as fast as we can.

>> reporter: the flood zone is anticipated to overtop banks in spots along the river's bank with 11 locations in six states recording new record crests. today in memphis , workers finished sandbagging outside a school downtown, a full week ahead of a projected 48-foot water crest, roughly 14 feet above flood stage .

>> we're going to be okay. it's the people in the greenville area, helena, all the way down it's going to be serious.

>> reporter: genie has watched water steadily creep toward her cottage --

>> do you have flood insurance .

>> no, we don't.

>> turning thursday into moving day .

>> this will all be under water in a couple days.

>> reporter: she expects to return to a mess. tonight the army corps of engineers is expected to detonate the third and final opening in the levee, and record flooding will continue through the weekend as the river levels rise over the next 7 to 10 days.

>> we'll watch it in the days ahead. ron mott in memphis for us tonight. thanks.