C.L. Jones paddles his way back to shore Tuesday, May 3, 2011, in Calhoun, Ky., after the Mississippi river flooded. (John Dunham/AP)

The flooding, which has already put portions of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas under water, is among the largest and most damaging ever along the river. Officials say they trust the levees would hold at this point, and are now preparing for the massive cleanup that awaits them.

As communities continue to deal with the effects of Mississippi’s floods, here are answers to your most pressing flood questions.

Why is the Mississippi river flooding?

It comes down to storms and snow. Excessive rainfall from two giant storms has resulted in deadly flash floods. When that rainfall combined with the springtime snow melt of earlier blizzards in the upper Midwest, it created the perfect scenario for the 500-year floods along the Mississippi.

Where can I get sandbags?

Sandbags are usually available at the local farm supply store, HomeDepot, Lowes, the postal service, or online.

What is a levee? When the levee breaks, what should I do?

A levee, or dyke, is a wall that is used to regulate water levels. During the Mississippi floods, levees have been stressed and so rivers have had no outlet, which causes more flooding. If the levee breaks, call 9-1-1.

Where can I find FEMA flood maps?

You can find them on the FEMA Web site. You’ll be asked to type in your state, county, and community so that you can get flood maps for your area.

How can I find out if I’m in danger of a flood?

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards transmits warnings from the National Weather Service and continuous weather and river information. The NWS Web page also provides forecasts, warnings, and locates where flooding is occurring.

How can I submit a flood report?

The National Weather Service Forecast Office allows you to write in the time, date, and place of the flood, as well as describe what you’re facing.

How can I get federal assistance?

You can apply for federal assistance from FEMA online, on your phone, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week.

How can I get help from Red Cross?

You can find a map of Red Cross Shelters here. You can also let friends and family know you’re okay on the Red Cross Web site or search for people you know.

More resources can be found at NOAA .