MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Forecasters say the Mississippi River could crest late Monday at Memphis — hours sooner than previously predicted — but the mayor says the city's ready for it.
Mayor AC Wharton said that despite the tightened timeframe, he's confident that precautions such as door-to-door warnings have prepared the city.
"We don't have as much time, but fortunately we're ready for it," Wharton told The Early Show on CBS Monday.
To the South, authorities in Louisiana stepped up their preparations by opening floodgates at a spillway northwest of New Orleans to take pressure off levees in populated areas. Inmates were also scheduled to be moved from a prison near Baton Rouge.
The Memphis mayor said disasters such as Katrina have shown that you can't simply get the word out by issuing warnings on TV. Authorities spent the weekend knocking on doors to tell a couple hundred people that they should abandon their homes before they are swamped by waters from the rising Mississippi. Wharton said officials are returning to some houses multiple times.
"Door-to-door is a key thing that we're doing," he said, adding there are stepped up patrols to prevent looting in areas where people have left their homes behind.
Forecaster Joe Lowery of the National Weather Service office in Memphis said it looks like the river is starting to level out and could crest as soon as Monday night, at or near 48 feet (14.63 meters). Forecasters had previously predicted the crest would come Tuesday.
Memphis residents have been abandoning low-lying homes for days as the dangerously surging river threatened to crest just shy of the 48.7-foot (14.84-meter) record, set by a devastating 1937 flood.