Corps of Engineers keeps watch on Ohio River flooding
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
CAIRO, Ill. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is keeping a close eye on Ohio River levees in Southern Illinois and Mississippi River levees south of the two rivers' confluence as the Ohio stays well above flood stage at Cairo.
The corps' Memphis district put more staff on the ground to monitor the rivers and levees in the Cairo and New Madrid, Mo., areas Saturday. The corps is now in its "phase two" of flood-fighting activities.
Emergency field officers at Cape Girardeau, Cairo and Dyersburg, Tenn., are now closely monitor area levees, floodwalls and pumping stations, Jim Pogue, the district's chief public affairs officer, said Monday.
The area of flooding is in the northernmost portion of the district in and around Cairo and New Madrid, at and below where the Ohio meets the Mississippi. The river stage hit 52.6 feet at Cairo at 9 a.m. Monday and the corps is expecting a prolonged level of 52.5 feet. Flood stage at Cairo is 40 feet.
Corps personnel monitoring flood works in the district are also making technical and material assistance available to local communities and flood control organizations to help in any flood-fighting efforts.
"We're concerned about life and the property of people who are protected by those levees," Pogue said.
Pogue said that the corps' Emergency Operations Center staff monitoring the flood works have reported to him small boils in areas of the levee.
"The thing we watch for is to make sure the water is clear and isn't carrying any sediment with it. That could mean there's some actual erosion taking place," he said. "It's OK to have boils as long as the water is running reasonably clear."
The EOC is staffed 12 hours per day, with personnel on call 24 hours a day. 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, according to the corps.
The river stage at Cape Girardeau on Monday was 33.1 feet, with a slow but steady fall expected. Flood stage in Cape Girardeau is 32 feet.