Mississippi flooding to affect national economy

The flooding on the Mississippi River is sure to cost billions of dollars in damage and lost business - and diverting flood waters away from New Orleans may not reduce the cost of this disaster by much.

But just how much will the flooding cost the southern flooded areas - and the rest of the U.S.?

CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis said on "The Early Show" Tuesday that the area affected by flooding is very significant to the national economy because of its gasoline resources.

"Thirteen percent of the nation's energy sources (are) coming from this part of Louisiana," she said. "One in nine gallons of gasoline that we use in this country every day comes from this part of the country."

Ships, she added, also go through the area, from cargo to cruise ships.

The immediate risk to oil refineries and shipping, Jarvis said, seems to have been somewhat lessened by opening the spillways in the flood zones.

"That's why the decision was made," she said.

"Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge said that while major refineries and shipping areas are safe at this time, the surrounding farmland and homes in small towns may be under 20 feet of water for what some say could be weeks.

"We're looking at hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of damage to farmland. We're hearing from corn farmers in the area who have not been able to plant their seedlings," Jarvis said. "You could also see in this country, as a result of all of this, corn prices going higher."

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