Tag Archive: Memphis


http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120326/NEWS90/120329766/-1/NEWSMAP

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — A person of interest was in custody Monday in connection with the fatal shooting of a student at Mississippi State University.

Mason Perry Jones was arrested Sunday night at a bus station in Memphis, The Clarion-Ledger reported. He was being held Monday in DeSoto County, Miss., according to WREG-TV.

School officials said 21-year-old John Sanderson, of Madison, Miss., was shot at around 10:00pm Saturday at Evans Hall, a residence for 288 male students on the northwest side of the Starkville campus.

Three male suspects fled the scene, and Sanderson died later Saturday at Oktibbeha County Hospital.

Police are still looking for two men, WREG reported.

A weapon was recovered from the Mississippi State campus after the shooting, according to Bill Kibler, vice president of student affairs.

Dr. Mark Keenum, president of the university, said the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident.

 

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http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=16254

Slim Smith, Dispatch Correspondent

March 26, 2012 12:59:20 PM

 

STARKVILLE – An arrest was made Sunday in connection with the weekend fatal  shooting of a Mississippi State University student.

 

MSU Police Chief Georgia Lindley today confirmed Mason Perry Jones was  arrested for the death of MSU student John Sanderson, 21, of Madison, who died  of multiple gun-shot wounds following a shooting at Evans Hall dormitory shortly  before 10 p.m. Saturday.

 

Jones was arrested in Memphis about 7 p.m. Sunday, by the U.S. Marshal’s  Fugitive Task Force. Jones was arrested on an outstanding armed robbery warrant  out of Jackson, which was not related to Saturday’s shooting, Lindley said,  noting UPD was informed by the marshal’s service on Sunday afternoon an arrest  was imminent and informed of the arrest, as soon as it was made. Though he has  been arrested, charges have yet to be brought against Jones.

 

“The U.S. Marshal’s Service was one of many agencies that have volunteered to  help us in the investigation,” Lindley said. “They came in (Sunday) afternoon  and began working the case. We are very grateful for all of the assistance.  Obviously, this is a very important matter to us.”

 

Lindley would not confirm Jones is the primary suspect and would not  elaborate on whether police now know the identities of two other men sought in  connection with the shooting. The UPD has not yet interviewed Jones and Lindley  would not comment on whether other agencies have interviewed Jones, as part of  the investigation.

 

Witnesses reported three black males were involved in the shooting and left  the scene in a late-model blue Crown Victoria.

 

Police recovered a handgun on campus early Sunday morning. Surveillance tapes  from cameras at the entrances of Evans Hall were being reviewed as a part of the  investigation, said Bill Kibler, Vice President of Student Affairs at  MSU.

 

“Our goal now is to identify the suspects and bring them into custody  immediately,” Kibler said Sunday. He declined to reveal a possible motive for  the shooting, but said police had information from witnesses who “knew what was  taking place.”

 

Evans Hall, one of the older dormitories on campus, is arranged as a  quadrangle. The first floor, where the incident occurred, opens into a  courtyard. The higher floors have balconies overlooking the courtyard. Evans  Hall has two main entrances — the north entrance accesses the first floor and  the south entrance accesses the second floor, which features a game room and  office, along with residents’ rooms.

 

Kibler said the shooting took place outside one of the first floor dorm rooms  and 24 students subsequently were relocated from their first-floor rooms to  preserve the integrity of the crime scene.

 

“This is the first time in our school’s history that such a tragic event has  occurred involving a student being shot on campus,” MSU President Dr. Mark  Keenum said Sunday. “Our campus is known as a safe place, and I want to assure  students, parents, faculty and staff that it continues to be safe.”

 

Entry to dormitory rooms is gained through three levels requiring key-card  access — at exterior entrances, entrances to wings or floors and at residents’  rooms.

 

However, the key-card access system was activated at the time of the  incident, which occurred before 10 p.m. And, Kibler noted, non-residents can be  brought into the dorm by residents, at any hour.

 

A deadly shooting spree on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007 – when almost  two hours passed before students/staff/faculty were notified that a shooting had  taken place – led to changes on campuses across the country to get the word out  more quickly.

 

Ben Grace, an MSU freshman who lives in Evans Hall, Sunday said he received a  torrent of text messages after the incident.

 

“I was getting all these texts and I’m thinking, “Why is everyone texting  me?” Then I got a call from a friend and he told me what happened. I just  grabbed my laptop and went over to stay with a friend at South Hall.”

 

Another Evans Hall resident, Phillip Bajoras, said he walked into the North  Entrance at about 10 p.m. Saturday.

 

“There were a lot of people standing around and I was wondering what was  going on,” he recalled. “Somebody was saying somebody got stabbed. Somebody  else said he was shot, but nobody said they heard any gunshots.”

 

Barojas said he looked over the balcony and could see the victim, who was  being attended to by “a couple of people” just outside one of the rooms while  police were clearing the courtyard.

 

Having recently transferred from Holmes Community College, Sanderson was in  his first semester at MSU.

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http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Party+crasher+Michaele+Salahi+kidnapped+runs+with+Journey+guitarist/5408409/story.html

LOS ANGELES – Few people roll like Michaele Salahi and her husband, Tareq,  late of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” and originally infamous for allegedly  crashing a state dinner at the White House.

 

Depending on when a person checked in on the Salahi drama Wednesday, Michaele  was either kidnapped, according to Tareq, or just fine, according to police.  Then there was the part about Michaele running off with a guy from a rock  band.

 

But more about Journey guitarist Neal Schon later. Seriously. After the  police stuff, and before the Montel Williams stuff.

 

Tareq reported Michaele missing very late Tuesday night, telling law  enforcement that his wife had been gone for six hours, the North Virginia Daily  reported. She’d called him from a cellphone with an Oregon number, he said, to  tell him she was fine and on her way to her mom’s house.

 

He said that after talking to his mother-in-law, who according to TMZ told  Tareq she didn’t know what was up with Michaele, he feared a kidnapping. The  former house-husband of D.C. told NBC that his wife’s “cryptic” behavior during  the call made him think she was trying to convey a message to him in code, the  way they’d play-acted in the past in case either one were, you know,  kidnapped.

 

“I swear to God,” Tareq told NBC, denying that the kidnap report was a  publicity stunt. “I’m missing my wife,” he sobbed, breaking down in tears.

 

The Sheriff’s Department in Virginia’s Warren County then issued a statement  Wednesday afternoon saying essentially not to worry – officials had been in  touch with Michaele and were confident nobody had been kidnapped.

 

“She seemed calm, was engaged in conversation, and assured the deputy that  she had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be,”  authorities said. She allegedly didn’t want her husband knowing where she  was.

 

Tareq Salahi told NBC a different story. “I think she’s being forced by,  whatever this Oregon phone number is, she’s being forced to say she’s OK,” he  said. “She’s being forced to to say this to the local authorities.” The couple  had frequently dealt with stalkers and death threats, according to Tareq.

 

But the best was yet to come.

 

It seems Michaele had actually run off with Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon  in Tennessee on Wednesday, according to TMZ, which got confirmation from the  band’s rep that “nobody kidnapped her and they are in Memphis together.” Mrs.  Salahi and Schon had even hung out together in the past, including with Mr.  Salahi at a party at the Salahi family’s winery. It was what the missus called  an “intimate and passionate relationship,” the celeb website said.

 

Of possible interest to those who graduated high school in the early 1980s:  Foreigner and Night Ranger were opening for Journey on Wednesday night in  Memphis.

 

The drama around the non-kidnapping came just ahead of Sunday’s scheduled  auction of Oasis Vineyards assets _ an auction related the winery’s 2008  bankruptcy filing. Though the Hume, Va., winery is not on the block, bids can be  placed Sunday in person or online on items including winemaking supplies,  kitchen and catering equipment, trucks and tractors, more than 200 cases of  various wines, and about 5,000 bottles of unfinished sparkling wine currently en  tirage. Oasis was founded in 1977 by Tareq’s parents.

 

Also on the Salahis’ dance card: A Sept. 24 event at the Oasis that’s being  billed as a charity fundraiser, with “a portion of proceeds going to benefit the  National Multiple Sclerosis Society.”

 

At least that’s how it’s now being billed, after Montel Williams’ legal team  sent a cease-and-desist letter Aug. 25 demanding that the TV personality’s name  and the name of his foundation be removed from any materials associated with the  $150-a-ticket event.

 

“I have never met, never spoken with, never been involved with anything to do  with these people,” Williams told the Los Angeles Times shortly after learning  someone had been marketing “A Hollywood Oasis – When Hollywood Glamour Meets the  Capital Region” with an assertion that he would be attending, and that a portion  of proceeds would go to the Montel Williams MS Foundation.

 

“It appears that the Salahis, whose bizarre behavior has been widely  reported, are attempting to piggyback off of Montel’s record of advocacy on  behalf of MS sufferers worldwide to advance the apparent re-opening of their  failed winery,” rep Jonathan Franks said in an Aug. 26 statement on Montel’s  behalf, adding that Team Montel had that day been contacted by multiple  governmental agencies investigating the group responsible for the event.  Williams’ people intended to co-operate with authorities, Franks said.

 

The Salahis protested via TMZ that they were not responsible for the actions  of those who held events at their winery, placing blame instead on D.C.’s Most  Fabulous Magazine, which was affiliated with the event and had posted the  invites online. The mag is run by one Howard N. Cromwell, who has previously  represented the Salahis, serving as the PR contact when Michaele released her  dance track, “Bump It.” In May, she was down to serve as head judge for a  Memorial Day bikini contest publicized by Cromwell.

 

Though Cromwell’s DRAWOH LLEWMORC Omnimedia Inc. (DLO) had written to  Williams’ foundation Aug. 10 stating that the foundation would be the  unsolicited beneficiary of the magazine’s third-anniversary celebration, the  former talk show host did not reply or accept an invitation for any  representative of the foundation to attend.

 

“The use of Mr. Williams’ name without his permission is unacceptable, and  Mr. Williams’ attorneys intend to pursue all available legal remedies in this  matter,” Franks said.

 

In a letter to Williams’ attorney dated Aug. 26, Cromwell’s attorney said  Williams’ team was mistaken, and no materials had represented Montel as  confirmed to attend. “The charity event is . . . not a Salahi or Oasis Winery  event,” the letter stated. “Any misunderstanding or miscommunication is  therefore DLO’s responsibility, and not that of Mr. and Mrs. Salai or Oasis  Winery.” The letter also said Williams’ name had been removed from any DLO  websites.

 

Williams’ legal team had sent its cease-and-desist letter to the Salahis on  Aug. 25. On Aug. 30, Cromwell posted a link on his Facebook page to materials  again stating Montel was expected at the event. That offer of an “international  marketing & branding opportunity” had also been revised to reinforce  Michaele’s status as a person “who has MS.”

 

Michaele Salahi revealed her alleged MS diagnosis on “Fox & Friends” in  September, saying she’d left the White House state dinner not due to her and  Tareq’s lack of a seating assignment, but rather because she was suffering  MS-related fatigue. The two were spotted, however, hanging out at a hotel bar  nearby for hours after leaving the state dinner, ultimately allegedly skipping  out on the tab. Michaele has not publicly discussed any treatment she might be  undergoing for MS, which she said she’d been dealing with for 17 years.

 

Williams called it “egregiously offensive” that his name might have been used  to mislead people into buying tickets to an event he was not affiliated with.  “They might not have crossed the line enough” in this case, he said, but  “they’ve figured out how to skirt the law. I hope the next time they get  caught.”

 

Williams said he suspected his name came up as a result of success he’d had  recently on the D.C.-area charity circuit raising money for veterans causes.  Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, the veteran of both the  Navy and the Marines also has worked on behalf of MS research.

 

Various state regulatory and law enforcement agencies in Virginia have been  looking into the Salahis’ activities, a source familiar with the inquiries told  the Los Angeels Times.

 

Incidentally, flattering quotes on Michaele Salahi’s website attributed to  the Times were in fact taken from an article written by Jocelyn Noveck of the  Associated Press.

 

Said Williams: “These people need to go away.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Party+crasher+Michaele+Salahi+kidnapped+runs+with+Journey+guitarist/5408409/story.html#ixzz1Y3Hy43kO

 

 

Unease in the Miss. Delta as floodwaters spread

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110512/ap_on_re_us/us_mississippi_river_flooding

By SHELIA BYRD, Associated Press Shelia Byrd, Associated Press 1 hr 28 mins ago

RENA LARA, Miss. – Officials in a small town are trying to assure its 500 residents they are doing what they can to shore up the levee to protect them from the swollen Mississippi River.

“It’s getting scary,” said Rita Harris, 43, who lives in a tiny wooden house in the shadow of the levee in Rena Lara. “They won’t let you go up there to look at the water.”

The uneasiness is being felt all along the poverty-stricken Delta as oozing floodwaters from the Mississippi River and its tributaries spilled across farm fields, cut off churches, washed over roads and forced people from their homes Wednesday.

Some used boats to navigate flooded streets as the crest rolled slowly downstream, bringing misery to low-lying communities. About 600 homes have been flooded in the Delta in the past several days as the water rose toward some of the highest levels on record.

The flood crest is expected to push past the Delta by late next week.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour urged people to get out if they think there is even a chance their homes will flood. He said there is no reason to believe a levee on the Yazoo River would fail, but if it did, 107 feet of water would flow over small towns.

“More than anything else, save your life and don’t put at risk other people who might have to come in and save your lives,” he said.

Much farther downstream, Louisiana officials were awaiting an Army Corps of Engineers decision on whether to open the Morganza spillway to take the pressure off the levees protecting Baton Rouge and, downstream, New Orleans and the many oil refineries in between. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday that residents who would be affected by the spillway opening should assume it will open and should plan to get out of the way.

Crews were using water-filled tubes to bolster levees protecting downtown Baton Rouge, where minor flooding could occur. Sandbags were being placed along a portion of New Orleans’ French Quarter riverfront, though the city isn’t expecting a major impact from the flood. The river could be closed to ship traffic at New Orleans if it rises too high.

The Mississippi Delta, with a population of about 465,000, is a leaf-shaped expanse of rich soil between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, extending about 200 miles from Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg, Miss. Along the way are towns whose names are familiar to Civil War buffs, aficionados of the blues, and scholars of the civil rights era: Clarksdale, Greenwood, Greenville and Yazoo City.

While some farms in the cotton-, rice- and corn-growing Delta are prosperous, there is also grinding poverty. Nine of the 11 counties that touch the Mississippi River in Mississippi have poverty rates at least double the national average of 13.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The governor said the state is asking local officials to get in touch with people who might have no electricity and phones and thus no way to get word of the flooding.

“It’s a tiny number, but we have to find them,” Barbour said.

Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for 14 counties in Mississippi because of the flooding. Housing and home repairs will be covered and low-interest loans to cover uninsured damage will be available.

In Greenville, Liz Jones, who is unemployed, lives on the second floor of a housing project and worries what might happen in the event of a levee break. She has no means of transportation.

“I got a baby and my mama. I don’t know what we’d do about food and clothes and stuff,” she said.

In Hollandale, one of the small rural towns in the Delta the governor warned might flood if the levee breaks, 62-year-old nursing home worker Geraldine Jackson fretted about what to do if she and her husband have to leave their red-brick house, where pieces of the roof have broken off and the white trim is peeling.

“I have relatives, but all my relatives live in the Delta, and the water’s going to get them too,” she said. “I’m just real messed up.”

Swollen by weeks of heavy rain and snowmelt, the Mississippi River has been breaking high-water records that have stood since the 1920s and `30s. It is projected to crest at Vicksburg on May 19 and shatter the mark set there during the cataclysmic Great Flood of 1927. The crest is expected to reach New Orleans on May 23.

Even after the peak passes, water levels will remain high for weeks, and it could take months for flooded homes to dry out.

About 600,000 acres of cultivated row crops could flood, mainly winter wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton and rice, said Andy Prosser, spokesman with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture. Even if the levees hold, the state expects to lose $150 million to $200 million worth of crops, the governor said. Mississippi’s catfish farmers could also be wiped out if the Yazoo floods their ponds and washes away their fish.

Many of the victims of the slowly unfolding disaster are poor people living perilously close to the water.

In the Memphis, Tenn., area, where the Mississippi crested Tuesday just inches short of the 1927 record, many of the flooded dwellings were mobile homes and one-story brick or wood buildings in low-lying, working-class neighborhoods unprotected by floodwalls or levees.

Maria Flores, her husband, Pedro Roman, and their four children ended up in a church shelter in south Memphis — some 20 miles from their trailer in the Millington area of Shelby County. They lost a trailer in last year’s flood, and it happened to them again this year.

Flores, who works as a baby sitter, and Roman, an unemployed day laborer, did not have disaster insurance and suspect their trailer is a total loss. At the shelter, they were receiving clothing and three meals a day and were sleeping on air mattresses in a room with 20 other people.

Flores said she stopped going to work because it was too far and she could not afford the gas. Roman seemed almost paralyzed by the uncertainty.

“People who have money have a better chance of getting back on their feet than poorer people,” Flores said. “That’s our problem.”

___

Associated Press writers Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tenn., and Emily Wagster Pettus and Holbrook Mohr in Jackson contributed to this report.

Coast Guard closes stretch of Mississippi

An electronic bill board warns drivers the reason Mississippi Highway 465 is closed to Eagle Lake is because of flood waters from the Yazoo River, neahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110506/ap_on_bi_ge/us_severe_weather_flooding

By ADRIAN SAINZ and CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Adrian Sainz And Cain Burdeau, Associated Press 1 hr 7 mins ago

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Coast Guard closed a stretch of the swollen Mississippi to barge traffic Friday in a move that could cause a backup along the mighty river, while police farther south in Memphis went door to door, warning thousands of people to leave before they get swamped.

Emergency workers in Memphis handed out bright yellow fliers in English and Spanish that read, “Evacuate!!! Your property is in danger right now.”

All the way south into the Mississippi Delta, people faced the question of whether to stay or go as high water rolled down the Big Muddy and backed up along its tributaries, breaking flood records that have stood since the Depression.

Because of levees and other flood defenses built over the years, engineers said it is unlikely any major metropolitan areas will be inundated as the water pushes downstream over the next week or two, but farms, small towns and even some urban areas could see extensive flooding.

“It’s going to be nasty,” said Bob Bea, a civil engineer at the University of California-Berkeley who investigated levee failures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. How bad it gets depends on how well the flood protection systems have been built and maintained, he said.

The Coast Guard closed a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi to protect Caruthersville, Mo., and said barges could be banned for up to eight days. The fear was that the wake from big boats would push water over a floodwall and into the town of 6,700.

Barges regularly move coal, grain, ore, gravel, auto parts and other vital products down the Mississippi. A single barge can carry as much material as 70 tractor-trailers, and some towboats can move 45 barges at once.

Lynn Muench, a vice president of the American Waterways Operators, an industry group, said the eight-day shutdown would have a multimillion-dollar effect on the barge industry and slow the movement of many products.

“It’s just like if you took out every bridge going over the Mississippi what that would mean to railroad and vehicle traffic,” Muench said. “You’re shutting down a major thoroughfare.” She added: “The last thing we want is a levee to go, but we also want to keep moving.”

In Tennessee, local authorities were uncertain whether they had legal authority to order evacuations, and hoped the fliers would persuade people to leave. Bob Nations, director of emergency management for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said there was still time to get out. The river is not expected to crest until Wednesday.

“This does not mean that water is at your doorstep,” Nations said of the door-to-door effort. “This means you are in a high-impact area.”

About 950 households in Memphis and about 135 other homes in Shelby County were getting the notices, Shelby County Division Fire Chief Joseph Rike said. Shelters were opened, and the fliers include a phone number to arrange transportation for people who need it.

Jeanette Twilley of south Memphis came home to find one of the yellow notices on her door. Her house is roughly 75 yards from Nonconnah Creek, which has overflowed its banks and flooded three houses on her street.

“Amazed. Amazed. I just can’t believe this,” said Twilley, who is retired and rents her home. She planned to leave in the afternoon and stay with friends or relatives. “There’s not going to be anybody here,” she said of the neighborhood, a working-class area in one of the poorer sections of Memphis.

In a section of south Memphis outside the evacuation zone, Billy Burke stood in his backyard, where water from a creek has been rising for days. About 20 feet away, a fish jumped out of a pool of standing brown water.

“I’m going to stay as long as I can,” Burke said. “But if the water goes up another 10 feet, I’m out of here.”

Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home and one of the city’s best-known landmarks, is about a 20-minute drive from the river and in no danger of flooding, spokesman Kevin Kern said. “We’re on a hill, high and dry and open for business, and will stay open,” Kern said.

Water pooled at the lowest end of Beale Street, the thoroughfare synonymous with Mississippi blues, but it was about a half-mile from the street’s world-famous nightspots.

The main Memphis airport was not threatened, nor was FedEx, which has a sorting hub at the airport that handles up to 2 million packages per day.

In Missouri, dozens of National Guardsmen and Highway Patrol members who had been rescuing people from floodwaters had to be rescued themselves after six boats got stuck in low water. Half were rescued before dark, and the others spent the night on a levee, relying on provisions dropped to them by the Guard.

Farther south, parts of the Mississippi Delta began to flood, sending white-tail deer and wild pigs swimming to dry land, submerging yacht clubs and closing floating casinos.

“We’re getting our momma and daddy out,” said Ken Gelston, who helped pack furniture, photos and other belongings into pickup trucks in Greenville, Miss. “We could have five feet of water in there,” Gelston said, nodding at the house. “That’s what they’re telling us.”

Bea, the civil engineer, said he is concerned because some levees across the U.S. have been built with inferior dirt, or even sand, and have been poorly designed.

“The standards we use to build these things are on the horribly low side if you judge them by world criteria and conditions,” he said. “The breaches, as we learned in New Orleans, are the killers.”

How long the high water lingers, and how much damage it does to the earthen walls of the levees as it goes down, are crucial factors.

“The whole summer will have to be watched,” said J. David Rogers, a civil engineer at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, a disaster that killed hundreds, Congress has made protecting the cities on the lower Mississippi a priority. The Army Corps of Engineers has spent $13 billion to fortify cities with floodwalls and carve out overflow basins and ponds — a departure from the “levees-only” strategy that led to the 1927 calamity.

The Corps also straightened out sections of the river that used to meander and pool perilously. As a result, the Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico faster, and water presses against the levees for shorter periods.

___

Burdeau reported from Greenville, Miss. Jim Salter in St. Louis and Travis Loller in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

Water covers the west-bound lane of Interstate 40 on the approach to the White River Bridge near Hazen, Ark., Thursday, May 5, 2011. Eastbound lanes ohttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110505/ap_on_re_us/us_severe_weather_flooding

By DYLAN LOVAN and ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press Dylan Lovan And Adrian Sainz, Associated Press 2 hrs 35 mins ago

HICKMAN, Ky. – Jail inmates filled sandbag after sandbag to protect one of the many Southern river cities threatened by the swelling Mississippi as it broke more 1930s flood records and crept higher Thursday.

A flooding tributary threatened to cut off Interstate 40, a major east-west route through Arkansas, and the Army Corps of Engineers planned to blast a new breach in a Missouri levee in hopes of controlling the slow-motion disaster flowing downriver.

Thousands of people from Illinois to Louisiana have already been forced from their homes, and anxiety is rising along with the river, though it could be a week or two before some of the most severe flooding hits.

In Hickman, a town of about 2,500, Morrison Williamson was confident a towering floodwall would save his hardware store, despite small leaks that let some flood waters spray through.

Williamson was in a nearly deserted downtown, keeping his store open for customers who needed flood-fighting supplies. He said the decision to break open the Missouri levee upstream has kept the river from topping the floodwall, saving many communities to the south.

“They say blowing up the levee saved Cairo (Ill.) Well, it did. But if this breaks, you’re talking Dyersburg, Ridgely, Tiptonville, water all the way to Memphis,” Williamson said about places in neighboring Tennessee.

About 120 Fulton County jail inmate volunteers dressed in orange or white prisoner uniforms furiously filled sandbags for Hickman. They have made 120,000 since April 26.

“We’re just going to keep going until they say stop,” jail Sgt. James Buckingham said.

Up and down the Big Muddy, farmers braced for a repeat of the desperate strategy employed earlier this week in southeast Missouri, where Army engineers blew up the levee and sacrificed vast stretches of farmland to protect populated areas upstream.

The corps planned to blast a third and final breach in the Birds Point levee around 1 p.m. Thursday to allow water to flow back out of the flood plain into the river.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said 78-year-old Joe Harrison, who has lived in the same house in Hickman since he was 11 months old. Floodwaters turned his house into an island — dry but surrounded by water. He has been using a boat to get to his car, parked on dry ground along a highway that runs by his house.

Tom Salem, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis, said flooding is extreme this year in part because of drenching rain over the past two weeks. In some areas, Wednesday was the first day without rain since April 25.

“It’s been a massive amount of rain for a long period of time. And we’re still getting snowmelt from Montana,” Salem said.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky disasters, making the states eligible for federal help with relief efforts.

Forecasters and emergency officials said some of the high-water records set during the great floods of 1927 and 1937 could fall.

But because of the system of levees and locks built since those disasters more than 70 years ago, flooding this time is unlikely to be anywhere near as devastating.

“We have a high confidence in our levees, but in the sense of transparency, we have to say that the levees have not been tested,” Shelby County Emergency Management Director Bob Nations said in Memphis, Tenn.

The great flood of the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1927 was one of the biggest natural disasters in U.S. history. More than 23,000 square miles were inundated, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and hundreds died.

The flood found its place in folklore, literature and films, and popular songs including “When the Levee Breaks.”

More devastation came in 1937 when 31,000 square miles were submerged from West Virginia to Louisiana.

Lifelong Hickman resident H.L. Williamson, 77, was a boy when he and his family fled to the highest point in town. He recalled little except that his brother wouldn’t eat black-eyed peas or grapefruit for years because that was all they had during the flood.

This time, Williamson packed up and left his home, which was still dry thanks to a hill just inches higher than the floodwaters. He took only a few belongings, including the Navy uniform he hopes to be buried in.

The relief from blowing up the levee is probably only temporary downstream in Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana because the water will eventually find its way back into the Mississippi River.

In Arkansas, a stretch of westbound Interstate 40 was closed where it crosses the White River, adding a 120-mile detour to the main route to Little Rock from Memphis. The state highway department said eastbound lanes remained open Thursday but flooding appeared imminent and they too could be shut.

Arkansas recorded its eighth death since the rains started April 25 when authorities found the body of a man in the floodwaters in eastern Arkansas’ Prairie County.

In Kentucky, about 3,800 residents have left their homes.

Memphis, where the Mississippi was at 43.8 feet Tuesday, could see a crest of 48 feet on May 11, just inches below the record of 48.7 feet set in 1937. Water from the Wolf and Loosahatchie rivers already has seeped into the suburbs, and some mobile home parks were swamped.

Emergency management officials said more than 1,100 houses and apartments could be hit with flooding. Several hundred people have already left, and thousands more are expected to follow them.

In Louisiana, shippers, ports and the chemical industry hoped the government could dredge fast enough to keep a major channel into the Gulf of Mexico unclogged. The Mississippi sends huge amounts of sediment downriver during high-water times.

Because the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is particularly flood-prone, the state planned to evacuate the most medically vulnerable inmates by Monday, then others later.

Mississippi officials told about 1,000 people packed into a National Guard armory Wednesday that they are confident the main levees along the Mississippi River will withstand high water in the coming weeks, but they warned that some backwater levees could be overtopped by as much as a foot.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour warned people to expect monumental flooding and said he was moving his furniture from his family’s lakeside home to prepare for flooding from the Yazoo River.

With the recent deadly outbreak of tornadoes and, now, the threat of flooding, “we’re making a lot of unfortunate history here in Mississippi in April and May,” said Jeff Rent, a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman.

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Sainz reported from Memphis. Associated Press writers Jim Suhr in Metropolis, Ill., and Holbrook Mohr in Rolling Fork, Miss., contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110330/ap_on_re_us/us_james_earl_ray_photos

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Long-forgotten photos that show James Earl Ray being brought to jail after his arrest for assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. were unveiled Wednesday to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the civil rights leader’s death.

Dozens of the striking black-and-white photos, along with letters Ray wrote from jail and other documents, were found in 2007 among old county records in a warehouse in east Memphis, Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood said. A few photos were posted on The Commercial Appeal’s website to accompany a story published Wednesday, and Leatherwood planned to make the rest available on a county website later in the day.

One of the photos shows Ray being patted down by an officer with his back to the camera and his arms spread out wide. Another shows the bespectacled Ray being led into the jail in handcuffs, wearing what appears to be a bullet-proof vest.

Leatherwood said the documents don’t offer any startling new revelations about the assassination, but do provide a detailed snapshot of a pivotal moment in the nation’s civil rights history. Most were never seen by the public. Leatherwood tried for about three years to make them available, and the county attorney approved their release six weeks ago, he told The Associated Press.

Then-Shelby County Sheriff Bill Morris had the photos taken to document that Ray wasn’t being mistreated when he was booked into the jail for the April 4, 1968, shooting death of King in Memphis. Ray was arrested about two months after the shooting.

Ray died in prison in 1998, but he had signed a document authorizing their release in the late 1970s, Leatherwood said.

“I hope they rekindle the memory of the civil rights movement,” Leatherwood told the AP. “A lot of the memories of the civil rights movement are being lost or people are taking the civil rights movement for granted. People did sacrifice their lives to that movement.

“Of course, Dr. King is the perfect example of that,” Leatherwood said.

The photos were taken by Memphis photographer Gil Michael, who was an employee of Memphis State University at the time. One picture showing Morris escorting Ray into the jail was given to the news media. The other photos were sealed, and the sheriff’s office kept the negatives.

Letters Ray wrote to his lawyers and family from the Shelby County Jail, where he spent eight months before pleading guilty, also were part of the newly-seen documents. So are investigators’ notes; a hand-drawn map of the Lorraine Motel where King was killed; and an article from Reader’s Digest entitled “Greatest Manhunt in Law Enforcement History.”

The archive also includes photos of Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. They were acquired by Morris in 1968 as he researched security techniques.

Morris said he didn’t want Ray killed while he was sheriff.

“On April the 4th, 1968, our whole culture of life in Memphis changed,” Morris told the newspaper. “Everything changed.”

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