As the rising Wolf River threatened to engulf neighborhoods and businesses in North Memphis, city officials closed off sections of Chelsea Avenue as a safety precaution.
Sections of the street east and west of North McLean were dammed with sandbags and piles of rock. Meanwhile, heavy wooden beams, tied together with steel straps, had been dropped into the gaps along the 1940s-era concrete flood wall that runs parallel to Chelsea. Normally, these gaps allow cars and railroads to pass through the flood wall, but on Monday only North McLean and North Watkins remained open.
Electrical transformers and other utilities along the street were protected by walls of sandbags, as authorities braced for the highest flood waters since the devastating flood of 1937. Already, many businesses in the low-lying section between Chelsea and the Wolf River had water lapping at their foundations, and concrete trucks in a parking lot just east of North Watkins were completely submerged on Monday afternoon.
The flooded areas attracted plenty of sightseers on Monday, and almost caused several accidents, as gawkers stopped in the 50 mph traffic lanes of North Watkins to snap pictures of the swollen Wolf River.