MEMPHIS, Tenn. | Police officers went door to door Friday urging Memphis residents to leave nearly 1,000 homes expected to be inundated by a near-record flood of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Emergency workers handed out bright yellow fliers in English and Spanish that read, "Evacuate!!! Your property is in danger right now."
All the way south into the Mississippi Delta, people faced the question of whether to stay or go as high water kept on rolling down the Mississippi and its tributaries, threatening to soak communities over the next week or two. The flooding has already broken high-water records that have stood since the 1930s.
Still, because of the system of levees and locks built since those disasters more than 70 years ago, the flooding this time is unlikely to be anywhere near as devastating as it was back then.
In Tennessee, where local officials do not have the authority to order people to evacuate, they hoped the fliers would persuade them to leave. Bob Nations, director of emergency management for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said there was still plenty of time. The river is not expected to crest until Wednesday.
"This does not mean that water is at your doorstep," Nations said of the door-to-door effort. "This means you are in a high impact area."
Shelby County Division Fire Chief Joseph Rike said about 950 households in Memphis and about 135 homes in Shelby County are getting the notices.
Shelters have been opened, and the fliers include a phone number to arrange transportation for people who need it.