MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 1, 2019 – On Feb. 26, the Mississippi River Commission toured flood control works in southern Illinois, west Tennessee, and the Missouri Bootheel. The tour included a stop at the Farrenburg Levee Renovation Project site in New Madrid, Missouri, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has installed a cofferdam. The commission inspected the cofferdam’s integrity and function along with St. Johns Levee and Drainage District representatives, representatives from Senators Blunt and Hawley’s offices, representatives from Congressman Jason Smith’s office, City of New Madrid officials, and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District. The group’s consensus is the cofferdam is functioning well.
“The cofferdam is in good shape and doing exactly what it is intended to do,” Mississippi River Commission President Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser said.
The Corps’ Memphis District installed the cofferdam to provide flood protection while it replaces two culverts that run through the Farrenburg Levee.
Memphis District’s Engineering and Construction Division Chief Donny Davidson explained, “A cofferdam is constructed around the construction site and tied into the existing levee system to protect the construction site and provide flood protection for the City of New Madrid during the levee construction work”.
The Corps has taken additional measures to ensure the integrity and function of the cofferdam.
Memphis District Flood Area Manager Daimon McNew said his team recently installed plastic sheeting along the side slopes of the cofferdam to protect against heavy rainfall and wave wash.
“We’ve conducted underwater surveys to ensure lower portions of the levee are sound and placed riprap to reinforce a section of cofferdam near the city's pump station,” McNew said. “We’re also placing gravel along the top of the cofferdam to allow better access for maintenance during inclement weather.”
As an additional protective measure, the City of New Madrid constructed a secondary landside cofferdam.
The City of New Madrid said in a statement, published on its Facebook page, that the secondary cofferdam was constructed strictly as “a precautionary risk reduction measure to provide a second line of defense.”
Maj. Gen. Kaiser and the other commissioners thanked the St. Johns Levee and Drainage District and the Corps for their great partnership and teamwork on monitoring the integrity and function of the cofferdam, the mainline levee, and other flood risk reduction works.
“Public safety is paramount to the Corps,” Memphis District Commander Col. Michael Ellicott said. “We will work with our partners to continue monitoring the cofferdam and all of the Mississippi River levees twice a day as long as high water remains.”
Citizens are strongly encouraged to stay in touch with their local authorities and emergency management officials for updates on conditions in their areas. The Memphis District will deploy additional personnel and resources as required to help protect lives and property.
The USACE Division headquarters in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is coordinating all floodfight activities in the Mississippi Valley. The USACE Emergency Operations Center in Memphis is directing all floodfight activities in partnership with the affected states, levee districts, and other local interest groups.
The Federal flood control works in the Mississippi Valley protect many thousands of homes, millions of lives and vast tracts of fertile cropland. The Memphis District’s flood control system has prevented more than $4.3 billion in flood damages and protected more than five million acres of cropland in the last decade alone.