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The ongoing flood situation along the Mississippi River threatens hundreds of thousands of square miles, including the Louisiana cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Many low-lying areas surrounding the Mississippi River have already been affected, after record flood levels have been reached. With the opening of the Morganza Spillway, evacuations have been taking place in the area as the region braces for the oncoming floodwaters. Opening the spillway is expected to affect more than 25,000 people in an area of the country that is economically important to the country as a whole.
The floods are a result of heavy rains, which have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have already caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Click ahead for scenes from the flooding from the affected areas.
Updated 16 May 2011
A worker looks over damage along a failing levee constructed around the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center May 16, 2011 in Vidalia, Louisiana. Heavy spring rains left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
On May 14 the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Morganza spillway in Louisiana to divert water from the rising Mississippi River down the Atchafalaya River and away from the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Dennis Barkemeyer inspects a levee constructed around a medical center to hold back floodwater from the Mississippi River May 16, 2011 in Vidalia, Louisiana.
Water is released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Morganza Spillway May 14, 2011 in Morganza, Louisiana. The opening of the floodgates for the first time in nearly forty years is intended to lower the crest of the flooding Mississippi River at Baton Rouge and downriver to New Orleans.
Water is released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Morganza Spillway May 14, 2011 in Morganza, Louisiana.
Raymond Prejean helps board up windows on his sister's home to help limit flood damage from the rising Atchafalaya River May 14, 2011 in Butte LaRose, Louisiana. The small town of Butte LaRose is expected to be severely flooded as a result of the Army Corps of Engineers opening the Morganza spillway.
Residents boat through a flooded section of the Atchafalaya River May 14, 2011 in Simmesport, Louisiana. The Morganza Spillway floodgates were opened for the first time in nearly forty years today to lower the crest of the flooding Mississippi River at Baton Rouge and downriver to New Orleans.
Lousiana Army National Guard soldiers help construct an emergency secondary levee May 15, 2011 in Krotz Springs, Louisiana. St. Landry Parish officials ordered a mandatory evacuation today for around 2000 residents in Krotz Springs and nearby Melville, Louisiana.
A boy stands in the flooded Atchafalaya River during a mandatory evacuation on May 15, 2011 in Melville, Louisiana.
Street signs are slowly swallowed by floodwater May 12, 2011 in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Bobby Gorman (R) gets help from Dylan Teague as he loads his boat onto a trailer along a flooded section of the Bill Ramsey Memorial Highway after rescuing possessions from his flooded farmhouse May 12, 2011 near Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Michael Walton prepares to move his truck to higher ground as floodwater begins to surround his home May 12, 2011 in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Detective Mike Traxler of the Warren County Sheriff's Department uses a boat to patrol a flooded neighborhood May 12, 2011 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Sheriff's Department has been maintaining regular patrols in the flooded areas of Vicksburg watching for looters and stranded residents and their pets.
William Jefferson fishes in the street near his flooded home in the King's Community neighborhood May 11, 2011 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Mississippi River at Vicksburg is expected to crest near record levels at 58.5 feet by May 12. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Townhomes on Mud Island sit in floodwater from the Mississippi River May 10, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Mississippi reached its crest at Memphis the night before at about four inches less than anticipated and nearly a foot shy of the record crest of 1937.
Barricades block access to a flooded neighborhood May 10, 2011 in Vicksburg, MS. The Mississippi river at Vicksburg is expected to rise an additional four feet by Thursday.
Floodwater covers Beale Street at the edge of the Mississippi River May 7, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Floodwater surrounds homes May 3, 2011 in East Prairie, Missouri. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and has caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas.
The height of the Mississippi River is gauged as water from the rising river is released through the Bonnet Carre Spillway May 9, 2011 in Norco, Louisiana.
The Army Corps of Engineers began redirecting part of the Mississippi River through the spillway today to lower river levels and reduce pressure on levees in order to avoid a catastrophic failure. The water will flow nearly 6 miles north before emptying into Lake Pontchartrain as the Mississippi rises close to the highest level ever upriver in Memphis.
Floodwater engulfs a home after the Army Corps of Engineers blew a massive hole in a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to divert water from the town of Cairo, Illinois May 3, 2011 near Wyatt, Missouri.
The diversion flooded about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland and 100 homes in the state. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and has caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas.
A woman looks at flooded homes May 9, 2011 in Memphis. The Mississippi River is crested at 47.85 feet, which is about 8 inches shy of the record set during the flood of 1937.
A home is surrounded by floodwater in the West Junction neighborhood May 8, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.
A firetruck drives down a flooded street May 7, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Residents paddle a boat past houses being swallowed up by floodwater May 7, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Workers from Memphis Light Gas and Water use sandbags to re-enforce a flood gate erected across Chelsea Avenue May 7, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.
A house is engulfed by floodwater May 7, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Roy Presson (C) embraces his daughters Catherine (L) and Amanda as they stand on the edge of State Highway HH looking out at their family farm on May 3, 2011 at Wyatt, Missouri.
The Presson home and 2,400 acres of land that they farmed was flooded last night when the Army Corps of Engineers blew a massive hole in a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to help save the town of Cairo, Illinois. Residents of Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas are bracing for record flooding from the two rivers.