Floods Spare Memphis Music Sites

Music landmarks were spared as a cresting Mississippi River flooded low-lying neighborhoods, forcing hundreds from their homes in early May.

Unlike last year, when catastrophic floods hit Nashville’s historic music sites, those in Memphis including Graceland and Beale Street are on higher ground and away from the river.

The Pyramid Arena, despite being along the Mississippi’s banks, was believed to be safe at press time and remained sandbagged.

Officials noted that the high water – which crested at almost 48 feet May 9 – could cause problems for days to come.

In the clear were Stax Records, now a museum and tourist attraction, and Sun Studio. Graceland was also safe at press time, but would have been the focus of strenuous defense from the water if necessary.

“I want to say this: Graceland is safe. And we would charge hell with a water pistol to keep it that way and I’d be willing to lead the charge,” said Bob Nations Jr., director of the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency.

While Memphis was spared the kind of flooding Nashville suffered, cities downriver were still awaiting their turn as floodwaters moved south.

In Tunica, Miss., casinos were closed as Mississippi tributaries backed up and flooded parking lots and access roads.

And New Orleans, still not completely recovered from Katrina-related flooding in 2005, braced as engineers opened spillways to divert water and ease pressure on the city’s levee system.