By Romanda Walker
St. Louis District
VICKSBURG, Miss. — After the monumental flood events of 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Mississippi Valley Division carefully inspected and completed damage assessments reports for all levees, channel improvements, navigation channels and structures associated with the Mississippi River and Tributaries, or MR&T, project, one of this country's most comprehensive and successful flood control systems.
From the damage assessments, a prioritized list of critical repairs was developed based on threat to human life and safety, as well as economic impacts. The recently approved Disaster Relief Appropriations Act has designated $802 million for repairs to the MR&T. Specific to the St. Louis District are ongoing repairs to damaged levees systems in Scott and Alexander counties in Illinois.
Plans have been approved to repair levees in Scott County on the Illinois River, and the Corps is currently working with the drainage and levee district to identify adequate borrow material to make the repairs. Barring any weather delays, construction can be completed in approximately 90 days after the contractor begins work. Plans are still being developed to repair damaged levees in Alexander County in southern Illinois, but interim repairs are in place and the drainage and levee district has a plan in place to flood fight, if necessary.
Separate from the levee repairs, repairs to gravity drains on the Grand Tower levee system in Jackson County, Ill., have been completed.
"In eager anticipation of these much needed flood recovery funds our teams, partners and contractors are rapidly mobilizing to aggressively implement a broad array of repairs in the coming months" said Scott Whitney, Regional Flood Risk manager for Mississippi Valley Division.
With the 2012 flood season approaching and conditions at some sites unsuitable for construction, there will be many areas not fully repaired, resulting in increased risk within the system. This increased risk will require extra vigilance and advance preparedness in the coming months given the post-flood condition of MR&T levees, flood walls, water control structures and navigation channels.
The Corps mobilized a Regional 2012 Flood Preparedness Team in mid-December to develop plans to manage, mitigate and communicate flood risks throughout the MR&T system. This regional effort will identify key risks within the MR&T, ways to minimize risk, and effectively communicate this information to partners, stakeholders and the public. An inter-agency workshop is scheduled for Feb. 22-23, in Memphis, Tenn., to carefully coordinate, refine and communicate this team's findings, tools and recommendations across the broad array of those public officials with shared responsibility for the protection of the lives and livelihoods from flooding events.