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May 9, 2011

Mississippi River flooding

The Mississippi River and tributaries continue to rise, reaching record crests, and the worst may still be to come. Portions of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are under water, with more to come. Pressure on levees led the Army Corps of Engineers to blow up a section below Cairo, Ill, inundating 130,000 acres of farmland while saving the town. As a bulge of river water makes its way downstream, levees are stressed and rivers that empty into the Mississippi have no outlet, backing up and flooding even more land. The bulge will reach the Delta later this month, and millions of acres are threatened. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

Floodwaters from the Mississippi River on May 3 swamp the area north of New Madrid, Mo. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Sally Nance walks through floodwater as she helps her neighbors remove clothes from their home May 4 in Tiptonville, Tenn. Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Volunteers fill sandbags against rising floodwater May 7 in Memphis. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

An explosion lights up the night sky as the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blows an 11,000 foot hole in the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, Mo. on May 2 to protect nearby Cairo, Ill. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP) #

Water flows through an intentional breech in the Birds Point levee May 3 in Mississippi County, Mo. after engineers blew the levee up in an effort to protect nearby Cairo, Ill. from rising floodwaters. (Jeff Roberson/AP) #

Roy Presson embraces his daughters Catherine (left) and Amanda as they stand on the edge of State Highway HH looking out at their family farm on May 3 in Wyatt, Mo. The Presson home and 2,400 acres of land that they farmed was flooded when engineers blew a hole in a levee to save the town of Cairo, Ill. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Floodwater surrounds homes May 3 in East Prairie, Mo. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Residents in Elizabethtown, Ill. build a wall of sandbags to hold back the rising water on May 3. (Stephen Rickerl/The Southern Illinoisan/AP) #

With Green River floodwater over his calves, Daniel Davis stands in the kitchen with personal belongings on sawhorses May 3 in Livermore, Ky. (John Dunham/Messenger-Inquirer/AP) #

Floodwater engulfs a home after engineers blew a hole in a levee to divert water from the town of Cairo, Ill. May 3 near Wyatt, Mo. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Water floods downtown Tiptonville, Tenn. May 3. (Erik Schelzig/AP) #

Workers use a boat to recover supplies from a flooded grain elevator May 4 in Caruthersville, Mo. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Johnny Sanders (center) listens as Jimmy Barnes (second from left) and Dr. Nancy Coleman speak about their potential flooding situation as they review U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maps May 4 at a public meeting in Rolling Fork, Miss. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP) #

The Quad Cities River Bandits and the Peoria Chiefs play a baseball game April 20 inside Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa. The rising flood waters of the Mississippi River surround the stadium which is protected by a flood wall. (Paul Colletti/The Dispatch/AP) #

Flooding caused by heavy rains create a whirilpool in a parking lot on Goodman Road in Horn Lake, Miss. (Stan Carroll/The Commercial Appeal/AP) #

Mollie Russell, Andre Statam, Zack Williams and Paige Jenkins, eighth-graders at Massac Junior High School, fill sandbags where a swollen Ohio River near the confluence with the Mississippi River has started to flood part of the town on April 27 in Metropolis, Ill. (Whitney Curtis/Getty Images) #

Inmates from an area prison load sandbags onto a truck May 1 in Cairo, Ill. Most of the city's remaining residents heeded a mandatory evacuation order, prompted by river water seeping up through the ground behind a levee. (Jeff Roberson/AP) #

This NOAA satellite image taken May 02 shows a thick band of clouds stretching from the Great Lakes, down the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, and into Texas. This system pulls ample moisture in from the Gulf of Mexico and triggers periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms across the region. (Weather Underground/AP) #

Houses are surrounded by floodwater May 3 in Pinhook, Mo. (Jeff Roberson/AP) #

Friends help remove furniture from the flooded home of Oma and Robert Gardner May 4 in Tiptonville, Tenn. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Cyril Forck, 90, catches a small perch fish from his backyard deck, which is usually 50 feet away from the edge of the Mississippi River, on Mud Island in Memphis, Tenn. May 4. (Lance Murphey/AP) #

Mark Mazzone of the Army Corps of Engineers inspects seepage from the Mississippi River coming through the Hickman Flood Wall May 4 in Hickman, Ky. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Michele Easter holds her daughter Caitlyn while she receives a tetanus shot from Sonya Jaquet May 5 in Metropolis, Ill. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Robert Gardner looks over his flooded neighborhood from the porch of his home May 6 in Tiptonville, Tenn. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Linley Dennis plays in a boat while her parents and grandfather work the motor in their flooded front yard in Big Boy Junction May 6 near Finley, Tenn. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #

Workers fill sandbags into the night in Memphis, Tenn. May 6. (Eric Thayer/Reuters) #

Jonathan White and Leandra Felton wade through slowly rising floodwaters with items from their home in Memphis May 7. (Eric Thayer/Reuters) #

Property owners and hired workers erect temporary flood walls along the Mississippi River in Natchez, Miss. May 7. (Gerald Herbert/AP) #

A windsurfer is seen on the rising Mississippi River in downtown Memphis May 7. (Mary Wisniewski/Reuters) #

Lesli Lambert (left) and Tammi St. John row through their neighborhood as floodwaters slowly rise in Finley, Mo. May 7. (Eric Thayer/Reuters) #

Leandra Felton wades through slowly rising floodwaters with items from her home in Memphis May 7. (Eric Thayer/Reuters) #

Tadpoles swim in the slowly rising floodwaters of a street in Memphis May 8 as the region braces for the highest Mississippi River crest since 1937. (Eric Thayer/Reuters) #

Residents look at houses being engulfed by floodwater May 8 in Memphis. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #