Flooding: Graceland Spared, Casinos, Refineries Less Fortunate

May 11, 2011; 6:20 PM ET
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While tourist areas around Memphis have been spared flooding, casinos downstream have been far less fortunate.

High water flooded some neighborhoods around Memphis, but the downtown area is not inundated by near-record flooding of the nearby Mississippi River.

Memphis International Airport and major highways surrounding the city were not affected, even as waters rose to just under 48 feet earlier this week. The flooding forced approximately 1,000 people from their homes.

According to the Associated Press, tourist attractions from Graceland to Beale Street were not threatened by the flooding and were accessible.

As the flooding continues to work downstream along the Mississippi River and causes water to back up into tributaries and bayous, tens of thousands of residents, students and employees in Mississippi and Louisiana will be displaced.

Casino Impact

Casinos along Old Man River are among the less fortunate industries as high water has blocked access to the venues in Mississippi.

While the casinos themselves are located on barges on the river, access to the hotels in many cases is being blocked by high water and will remained blocked for days, if not weeks in many cases.

There are 19 such casinos in Mississippi, and all could close at the height of the flooding. As of Monday, the number of closed casinos had reached 15 in the state, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The temporary closing of the casinos not only results in millions of dollars in lost of tax revenue, but also loss of income to the thousands of employees working in the casinos and associated hotels.

Most casinos in Louisiana are not located on the Mississippi River and were not threatened by flood waters as a result. Most of the casinos in the Bayou State are located along the Gulf Coast, which took a beating during Katrina in 2005.

Cities along rivers that have casinos include Elizabeth in Indiana, Metropolis in Illinois, Caruthersville in Missouri, Lula, Tunica, Vicksburg, Natchez and Greenville in Mississippi and Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

Fuel Impact

Other industries are being impacted by the rising Mississippi River.

Multiple refineries in Louisiana could be shut down or operations greatly scaled back, and at least 1,700 oil and gas wells will be capped as a precaution prior to flooding, according to Bloomberg, Reuters and other sources.


The Krotz Springs Refinery in St. Landry Parish, La., lies along the Atchafalaya River and could be inundated if the Morganza Spillway is opened.

It is not just the refineries and wells that will be affected, but also perhaps transport of these fuels.

Portions of the Mississippi River are closed for shipping due to the high water and high flow rates and more closures are coming as the surge of water moves downstream through the Delta.

As we have been saying since the heavy rain first hit upstream areas, this flooding event will not last days, but rather weeks. The impacts could last months.

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