The River Has Its Way

When Americans talk about “the river” they are talking about the greatest river of them all, the Mississippi.

This spring the great river is flooding at its highest levels in over 80 years. In order to protect major cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, floodwaters are being diverted to about 3,000 square miles of low-lying, swampy land.

Officials say this land will be submerged under 25 feet of water, displacing an estimated 25,000 people who live in the area known as Cajun country.

The river will reach its peak at New Orleans on May 23, and then take another 2 weeks to empty out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Yazoo river floods farms and homes near Yazoo City, Mississippi 18 May 2011. Floodwater released from a key Mississippi river spillway surged through the Louisiana bayou and levees protecting the state’s two biggest cities. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

A barge travels down the Mississippi river past a flooded business near Natchez on 17 May 2011. Photograph: Dave Martin/AP

Floodwaters from the Mississippi river closed Highway 61 north of Vicksburg on 17 May 2011. Photograph: Dave Martin/AP

Dennis Barkemeyer (right) inspects a levee constructed around a medical centre to hold back flood water from the Mississippi river on 16 May in Vidalia, Louisiana. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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