MEMPHIS, Tenn., June 22, 2015 – The Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) initiated Phase II floodfighting this morning due to continuing high river stages on the Upper Mississippi River. The area of current or possible flooding is located in the northern portion of the Memphis District in the Charleston (Missouri) and Cairo (Illinois) Sectors. The lands likely to be affected by the forecasted high water are located in and around the communities of Cape Girardeau, Scott City, Chaffee and Commerce, Mo. Floodfight personnel will also be active in the community of Cairo, Ill., due to the high water on the Mississippi River. The Ohio River is currently below floodfight activation stages but is above flood stage.
Eight USACE employees are now in the field conducting patrols each day from 6 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. They are checking the condition of levees, and looking for problems like water seepage under levees. Three additional employees have also been designated to assist at the USACE Emergency Operations Center at the District Headquarters office in Memphis.
During a Phase II activation, USACE personnel begin more intensive monitoring of flood risk reduction works. They also make technical and materiel assistance available to local communities and flood control organizations to aid them in their floodfighting efforts.
Since the flood of 2011, USACE has done a significant amount of work to construct new or make improvements to existing flood risk reduction measures in the affected area. These include the construction of slurry trenches and relief wells along some levees in and near Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Cairo, Ill.
Slurry trenches are constructed where seepage of water under a levee has been a problem. The trench is dug to a significant depth and filled with an impervious clay material that blocks the flow of water under the levee. Relief wells are installed in areas also prone to underseepage. During high water events like this, they allow the water to flow under the levee in a controlled and non-destructive manner and to the surface. Using ditches and pumping stations the water can be moved back into the river in a safe manner.
This period of high water will give engineers an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of these new flood risk reduction measures.
The USACE Division headquarters in Vicksburg, Miss, coordinates all floodfight activities in the Mississippi Valley. The USACE Emergency Operations Center in Memphis directs all floodfight activities in its area of responsibility in conjunction with the affected states, levee districts and other local interest groups.
The Federal flood protection works in the Mississippi Valley protect many thousands of homes, millions of lives and vast tracts of fertile cropland. The Memphis District’s flood risk reduction 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.
Release no. 15-008