Mississippi River Floods

As the Mississippi River crests, fears are rising that massive flooding could hit the Big Easy. But the city's 20-foot floodwalls and the opening of a spillway should prevent another Katrina-level disaster, writes Jed Horne.

Danny Johnston / AP Photo

Danny Johnston / AP Photo

A house and yard, protected by a levee, is surrounded by floodwaters from the White River near Clarendon, Arkansas on May 9, 2011.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Darrell Evans and Jermaine Jarrett paddle a boat down a flooded street in their neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee.

Commercial Appeal / Landov

A lone deer finds refuge on the roof of a house in Tunica, Missouri on May 10, 2011.

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People look on as water from the rising Mississippi River is released through the Bonnet Carre Spillway while washing out a road May 9, 2011 in Norco, Louisiana.

Commercial Appeal / Landov

Cars lie submerged in overflow water from the Wolf River on McMiller Road near Jackson, Mississippi.

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Floodwater engulfs a home after the Army Corps of Engineers blew a massive hole in a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to divert water from the town of Cairo, Illinois May 3, 2011 near Wyatt, Missouri. The diversion flooded about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland and 100 homes in the state. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and has caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Nathan Moore (L), Steve Richardson (C) and Ronald Moore check on flood damage to their homes in Big Boy Junction May 6, 2011 near Finley, Tennessee.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Residents look at houses being engulfed by floodwater in the West Junction neighborhood May 8, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Officials estimate about 1,300 homes are at risk of suffering dangerous flooding as the city braces for the highest Mississippi River crest since 1937. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Jeff Robertson / AP Photo

Caution tape floats in floodwater surrounding Mary Dugger's home Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn.

Jeff Roberson / AP Photo

Two pickup trucks are seen surrounded by floodwater outside a garage Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. More Memphis residents were being told Sunday to flee their homes for higher ground as the mighty Mississippi River edged toward the city, threatening to bring more flooding to parts of an area already soaked.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Sally Nance walks through floodwater as she helps her neighbors remove clothes from their home home May 4, 2011 in Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Jeff Robertson / AP Photo

Floodwater is seen inside a building Monday, May 9, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. Memphis residents are waiting for the Mississippi River to reach its peak expected as early as Monday night as the river rises near its highest level ever in Memphis, flooding pockets of low-lying neighborhoods.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Residents look at houses being engulfed by floodwater in the West Junction neighborhood May 8, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Officials estimate about 1,300 homes are at risk of suffering dangerous flooding as the city braces for the highest Mississippi River crest since 1937. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Zhang Baoping, Xinhua / Landov

Cars are seen soaked in floods in the town of Cairo, Illinois, the United States, May 4, 2011.