Posted at 09:45 AM ET, 05/09/2011

Mississippi River flooding brings out the tourists (Photos and video)

A stop sign is nearly covered by floodwater from the Ohio River in Metropolis, Ill. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, and rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The heavy rains of this spring have swollen the Mississippi River — so much so that it is inundating farmlands and homes are being evacuated along its route. While the flooding has submerged low-laying lands near the river and threatens to submerge buildings in Memphis and New Orleans, it is also drawing crowds as it snakes its way south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The river is "probably the biggest tourist attraction in Memphis," Scott Umstead, who made the half-hour drive from Collierville with his wife and their three children, told the Associated Press.

In New Orleans and Baton Rouge, spillways are being opened to ease the pressure on levees. Bloomberg’s Lizzie O’Leary reports from New Orleans that families have brought their children down to see the spillway open. She writes on Twitter, “My cameraman: ‘Gotta love our state. hey guys - we gonna open a floodway on the river, y'all come on down!’”

For more information, the National Weather Service has created a one-stop resource page for the flooding.

Here are some photographs and videos from the flooding:

A spillway is opened in New Orleans. (Lizzie O’Leary/Bloomberg via YFrog )

(Lizzie O’Leary/Bloomberg via YFrog )

People look out as as floodwaters slowly rise in Memphis, Tenn. Emergency officials on Sunday issued evacuation notices to more than 1,300 Memphis area homes. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

People take a look at Mississippi River floodwaters at the base of Beale Street on Sunday. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

High water covers the road in the Box Town neighborhood as a waste can floats Sunday. (Wade Payne/AP)

Residents look at houses being engulfed by floodwater in the West Junction neighborhood in Memphis. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A ramp leading to the Memphis Queen riverboat and its parking area are covered by floodwater. Communities all along the banks of the Mississippi are keeping a close eye on the river's rise with the crest in Memphis not expected until Wednesday. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

A man looks at partially submerged homes as floodwaters slowly rise in Finley, Mo. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Dogs keep dry on the porch of a home surrounded by floodwater in Bogota, Tenn. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This composite of two images provided by NASA shows the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers on April 14, 2010, top, and on May 3, 2011, bottom, after the Army Corps of Engineers intentionally broke the Bird's Point levee holding back the rising Mississippi River. The Bird's Point levee can be seen in the lower right where the two rivers meet. (NASA/AP)

By  |  09:45 AM ET, 05/09/2011

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