MEMPHIS, Tenn., Dec. 30, 2015 – The Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) initiated Phase II floodfighting this morning due to high river stages on the Mississippi and St. Francis Rivers. The area of current or possible flooding is located in the northern portion of the Memphis District in the Charleston (Missouri) Area, Reelfoot-Obion (Kentucky) Area, Cairo (Illinois) Area on the Lower Mississippi River and the Upper St. Francis Area on the St. Francis River. The lands likely to be affected by the forecasted high water on the Lower Mississippi River are located in and around the communities of Cairo, Ill., Cape Girardeau, New Madrid and Scott City, Mo., Wickliffe, Ky., and Tiptonville, Tenn. On the St. Francis River the areas of Wappapello and Fisk, Mo., are likely to be affected.
Forty 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. Fifteen 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 intensively monitor government 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 areas. 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.
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. -30-