Here Comes …. The River

Since we’ll all be watching the river as well as the skies in the next week or so. Here are some standards to consider courtesy of the National Weather Service Memphis bureau.

The record crest of the Mississippi River at Memphis was 48.7 feet on the river gauge on Feb. 10, 1937. Second place honors go to the flood of 1927 with 45.8 feet on April 23, 1927.

The two floods were unprecedented events not only in the heights the river reached but in the impact over several states displacing large numbers of people just before and during The Depression. Parts of Memphis experienced flooding but the city was also higher ground for the flood refugees.

Those in Memphis could hardly take solace in the presence of higher ground.

I had always wondered why my father was a little bit older when he graduated from Humes High School in the 1930s. His yearbook turned up the answer. It noted that students at Humes and other Memphis City Schools of the day lost part of a school year to the flooding of 1937 as they went to work with the adults in the flood efforts. The same must have been true for MCS students during the 1927 floods.

If the 45 foot crest forecast at Memphis on May 10 holds true, it will be the third highest river crest at Memphis – in the company of the 1937 and 1927 floods.

In our story in The Daily News for Tuesday, Memphis in May spokeswoman Diane Hampton recalled the river being the subject of some concern in 2002 but being nowhere near as the 45 foot high crest forecast for next week. In 2002, the river, during May reached a crest of 38.7 feet at Memphis.

The hard rains Monday added some urgency to a situation those who get paid to watch the Mississippi River were already concerned about.

Our story notes that while the Beale Street Music Festival is safe, the electrical bunkers near the rocks in Tom Lee Park will probably be moved at some point in anticipation of the river at Memphis cresting sometime between the last note of the festival and the first hammering of boards for the barbecue contest.

The NWS also includes some helpful but troubling milestones to measure the rising river by.

At 48 feet, it notes, Riverside Drive and Tom Lee Park flood. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers site differs on this putting the mark for that at 49 feet. The Corps also says at 56 feet, homes are in danger of flooding on Mud Island. That would be far above the 1937 all time record, however.

If the river reaches 45 feet as forecast, it will specifically mean extensive backwater flooding along the Wolf and Loosahatchie Rivers in Frayser and northern Shelby County. And that level of water would go over the lowest dike around the ash settling ponds at the Alan Steam Plant.

At Monday evening’s river stage of 32.66 feet, there is some spot flooding of access roads to fields in southwest Shelby County. Joe Royer, the founder of the Outdoors Inc. Canoe & Kayak Race confirms the Mud Island boat ramp at the mouth of the Wolf River is well underwater.

Across the river, a quick glance to the west confirms much of the farmland west of Memphis is under water. Dacus Lake Road, north of I-40, should be flooded.

We’ll continue to update the river forecasts and readings throughout what could be a historic flood on par with the Mississippi River floods in 1937 and 1927.

Look for our updates on Twitter @memphisdaily.

St. Jude Hits Back Over Stanford Claims

St. Jude has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against it from a committee of Stanford Financial investors.

The investors say Stanford steered some of its ill-gotten gains to Memphis institutions, including St. Jude.

“It is difficult to fully measure the impact that St. Jude Children’s Hospital has had on literally millions of children with catastrophic diseases throughout the world,” St. Jude’s motion reads.

“From the earliest periods in the history of law, courts have protected and favored charities, indulging every inference possible to protect them and preserve their noble purposes. Plaintiffs seek to ignore this tenet of the law and the fact that St. Jude spent the funds it received for public good, not personal gain.”

First Tennessee Parent Co. Reports Nice Q1

The Memphis-based parent company of First Tennessee Bank this morning reported a first quarter that soundly beat analyst expectations.

First Horizon National Corp.’s Q1 net income available to common shareholders was $40.2 million, or 15 cents a share. The consensus estimate of more than two dozen analysts was a 4-cent profit.

In the year-ago period, First Horizon reported a net loss of $27.7 million, or 12 cents a share.

Among the quarter’s highlights, pre-tax income in First Horizon’s regional bank segment increased 4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010. Year-over-year, revenue was relatively stable despite added regulatory pressure and economic challenges, the company said.

A Beloved Bookstore is Going Once, Going Twice

Davis-Kidd’s parent company is going on the auction block today, a process that will decide the fate of the much-loved East Memphis bookstore.

It should be noted that the auction process doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the performance of the Memphis store itself.

That’s the most unfortunate part of the turn of events.

The Daily News reported last month creditors of Davis-Kidd’s bankrupt parent company weren’t happy with the company’s decision to close all but a few of its strongest remaining stores, such as the Memphis store.

Those creditors thought the company ought to pursue a liquidation instead.

Meanwhile, the community institution is open for business today – and hopefully for many days afterward.

Nominees Selected for EDGE Board

Several nominees have emerged for Economic Development Growth Engine, the new economic development board created to guide the city and county’s efforts.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. will seek approval to appoint the following:

* Mark Halperin – executive vice president of Boyle Investment Co.
* Deidre Malone – President and CEO of The Carter Malone Group
* Johnny Moore- President and CEO of SunTrust Bank-Memphis
* Richard Smith – Managing director, FedEx Express
* Natasha Bowen – President and CEO of The Growth Coach
* Tom Dyer – Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP
* Larry Jackson – President of Patriot Bank
* Dick Leike – President and co-owner of Crye-Leike Real Estate Services

Mark Yates of Memphis is a joint nominee of the two mayors and will serve as the board chairman. Yates is the executive director for Voices for Memphis’ Children at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center.

Two non-voting members will be Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad and Shelby County Commissioner Chris Thomas.

Memphis and Shelby County are also working to contract with a search firm to assist with hiring the president of EDGE.

“Establishing the EDGE and appointing its board of directors is a significant step toward rebuilding and reviving our local economy,” Wharton said. “I am asking these individuals to serve because I believe that their experience, professionalism, vision and dedication to our city’s future are what we need to launch this organization. This is a significant responsibility and it comes at an extraordinarily meaningful juncture in our community’s progress. These folks are up to the job and it’s my privilege to present them before the City Council and County Commission.”

Said Luttrell: “Mayor Wharton and I have given a lot of thought about who might best serve on this board. This is a group of people chosen for their business skills and leadership abilities. Their knowledge and talents will provide excellent guidance in our efforts to create new business opportunities in Shelby County. I appreciate their commitment and willingness to serve our community.”

Dansette

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