News Release Manager

Possibility of renewed flooding in Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway area

Published Dec. 5, 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn., DEC. 5, 2011 – Based on National Weather Service forecasts of unseasonably high river levels, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advises citizens with interests in the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway that a significant risk of renewed flooding in that area exists for the near future.

According to the Weather Service, a strong La Niña weather pattern over the United States has been, and is expected to continue to bring, heavy rains weekly to the Lower Mississippi River Valley along with the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland river basins through the middle of December. The La Niña will continue to bring the likelihood of above normal precipitation through spring.

“Unfavorable weather conditions prevented us from reaching our target gage of 51 feet on the Cairo gage at the middle crevasse near Big Oak Tree State Park by Nov. 30,” Col. Vernie Reichling, commander of the Corps’ Memphis District said. “However, we did reach this level of protection on Dec. 3 and continued placement of clay material to a level of 55 feet.

“At the upper crevasse we achieved the 51-foot level of protection by Nov. 30 as targeted,” Col. Reichling continued. “Weather conditions, however, continue to hamper our ability to achieve our revised target of 55 feet using normal levee construction techniques. As such, I have directed workers to preposition supplies and equipment that will allow us to reach a 55-foot level of protection with temporary construction methods.”

Materials to be prepositioned for a temporary levee include supplies like HESCO bastions (large collapsible wire mesh containers with heavy duty fabric liners filled with sand), sand bags and plastic sheeting. These materials can be used to quickly raise the levee height. The HESCO bastions and related work can be done around the clock and would not be as dependent upon favorable weather conditions as conventional levee construction is.

Concurrently, Corps employees will also continue to raise the levee by placing clay as weather conditions permit. Recent heavy rains in the area of the Floodway have stopped this work several times in the last few weeks and slowed progress.

Citizens in the area are urged to stay in touch with their local authorities, and closely monitor river forecasts from the National Weather Service and additional information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They should be prepared to take whatever measures they believe are necessary to safeguard their lives and property.

“The Corps’ number one priority is and remains public safety,” Col. Reichling said.

Public Affairs Office

Release no. 11-36