MEMPHIS, May 4 (UPI) -- The Mississippi River receded near Cairo, Ill., but rose around Memphis, where residents were told to evacuate as a near-record flood loomed, officials said.
Floodwaters were likely to ravage some 5,300 homes and businesses May 11, officials said, when the Mississippi was expected to crest at 48 feet -- 0.7 inches below 1937's flood record.
Water levels were about 39 feet Wednesday morning and were expected to top 40 feet Thursday, officials said.
Residents of Memphis' Mud Island, a mile from the downtown coast, "need to be making plans" to evacuate, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal quoted Shelby County Office of Preparedness Director Bob Nations as saying Tuesday.
Some sections of the small peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi to the west and the Wolf River Harbor to the east were already underwater, officials said. A broad area covering parts of 19 ZIP Codes could be flooded early next week, Nations said.
Heavy rains this month have added to river levels. No rain is forecast for about a week.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who toured the flooding by air Tuesday, said he had not yet decided whether to call out the National Guard. Officials made no further decisions about additional evacuations, he said.
Other communities expected to be flooded include Tiptonville, home to a maximum-security prison, and Reverie, where a prehistoric mastodon skeleton and archeological artifacts from an aboriginal village were discovered.
The expected May 11 crest was projected to come a day later than previously forecast because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted a 2-mile-wide hole through a levee near Cairo, sending a wall of water traveling 4.1 million gallons a second over about 130,000 acres of farmland in Wyatt, Mo., across the river, and creating a 203 square-mile lake.
A second blast downstream took place Tuesday afternoon and a third was expected Wednesday or Thursday to let water re-enter the Mississippi, Missouri Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell told the Public Broadcasting Service.
On the Cairo side, the river level dropped about 2 feet, which officials expected, sparing the small city from extensive flood damage.
By Tuesday morning, besides flooding the farmland, the floodwaters seeped into every one of the 90 homes in the the 35-mile-long Bird's Point-New Madrid Floodway, PBS said.