U.S. funnels $802 million to Corps for 2011 flood areas

Published 11:31 am Friday, December 30, 2011

About $802 million in emergency repair money approved by President Barack Obama will be directed to areas along the Mississippi River hit hardest by last spring’s historic flood, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division said Thursday.

                                                                                                       

The Mississippi River and Tributaries System — a series of levees, floodways and control structures between Cairo, Ill., and the Gulf of Mexico — prevented more than $120 billion in damages during the Great Flood of 2011, the Corps said.

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The money is part of a $1.7 billion appropriation to the Corps in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act signed by the president a week ago, though no specific projects have been listed publicly.

“This funding represents a vital investment in the most valuable flood risk reduction system in our nation, perhaps in the world,” said Maj. Gen. John Peabody, president-designee of the Mississippi River Commission and Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, in a statement. “Since the Mississippi River and Tributaries program was conceived in 1928, this comprehensive flood risk management system has earned its value many times over, representing over a $30 to $1 return on investment for American taxpayers today.”

MVD money in the legislation will address needs in the 14 counties in Mississippi declared disaster areas during the flood, which reached 57.1 feet in Vicksburg — 14.1 feet above flood stage. Stages were above the 43-foot flood mark for 46 days. A new high mark was also set at Natchez, where the river crested the same day at 61.9 feet. Peak daily flows topped 1927 levels at Vicksburg — where more than 2.2 million cubic feet of water were measured — and at Arkansas City, Greenville and Natchez.

Costs for documented damages in the Mississippi Valley alone approach $1 billion, the release said. More than $3.1 million in reinforcements to the mainline levee north of Vicksburg at Buck Chute and Lake Albemarle are expected to wrap up by late January.

The Mississippi River and Tributaries System — a series of levees, floodways and control structures between Cairo, Ill., and the Gulf of Mexico — prevented more than $120 billion in damages during the Great Flood of 2011, the Corps said. Despite the new funding, the Corps expects it will “take years to restore the system to its pre-flood levels,” the release said.