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Story Archives: Corps describes 2011 flood fight
|Corps describes 2011 flood fight|
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division, has compiled a report recapping combined efforts to fight the 2011 Mississippi River flood, including brief accounts of levee work south of Vidalia and of the operations of the Old River, Morganza and Bonne Carre control structures.
In one of three reports compiled -- the "2012 Flood Season Preparedness and Emergency Summary Response" -- it is noted that several locations along the Mississippi River Levee near Vidalia in 2011 "were identified as deficient and in need of raising. Deficient areas required potato ridge (dirt packed on top of an existing levee), HESCO (levee), or both in order to raise the levee to the required grade and provide a minimum freeboard based on the predicted water level."
Additionally, Greg Raimondo, Public Affairs Chief for the Corps' Vicksburg District, on Tuesday provided an update on levee work in the Vidalia area.
He said all embankments have been completed by Kingridge Enterprises, while turfing work remains. Seventy-five percent of the nine wells to be installed by the contractor on the north end of the job have been completed.
Embankments have also been completed by Young Contracting while the establishment of turf remains.
Meanwhile, the Corps' report on the 2011 flood notes that in Natchez significant "erosion of the river bank occurred near Silver Street...and by 15 May (2011) the erosion had begun to threaten temporary protection measures at Natchez. On 16 May emergency repairs at the site were initiated, consisting of emplacement of R200 stone on top of the existing fabric and sand bags along a 350 foot section of eroded river bank."
The Mississippi River drains 41 percent (1.2 million square miles) of the continental U.S., including all or part of 31 states, with a drainage area of more than 1.8 million square miles, the report notes. Only the Amazon and Congo watersheds are larger than the Mississippi's.
The Mississippi's journey southward begins in northern Minnesota and ends at the Gulf 2,430 miles to the south.
Excessive rainfall "throughout the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Souris River valleys combined with a higher than normal melting snowpack caused historic flooding," making the 2011 flood one of the greatest ever recorded. The 2010-2011 snowpack "contained a water content ranked among the highest in the last 60 years."
Although the levee system performed as designed, the Corps says "it experienced tremendous and prolonged pressure from this historic event. It is the Flood of Record for many gauges between Cape Girardeau, MO and the Gulf of Mexico. The 2011 flood fight is the first time the total watershed system was required to be operated in a synchronized manner to manage the highest level of water it has ever seen...The flood waters exacerbated known weakness and created new weaknesses in the system requiring emergency response by the local levee boards coupled with technical assistance and other resources from the Corps.
"Corps of Engineers emergency activities during the flood encompassed every phase of flood fighting, ranging from cooperation with local levee boards and drainage districts to the operation of floodways and backwater features. Emergency flood fight measures that were required to pass the event included ringing sand boils, constructing water berms, blocking culverts/ditches to impound surface waters, constructing erosion control measures, and raising the level of protection in some areas on the mainstem Mississippi River Levee."
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