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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keeping watch on levees

Monday, January 30, 2012

NEW MADRID, Mo. -- Daily inspections of the reconstructed levees have begun as the Mississippi River continues to rise.

Major Jon E. Korneliussen with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District said daily patrols are checking the middle and upper crevasses, which were created when the Corps breached the levee last May.

Pointing out the National Weather Service is currently forecasting a crest of 43.5 feet on the Cairo, Ill., gauge Feb. 6, Korneliussen said this should not impact the levee at the upper crevasse.

"The repaired levee at the center crevasse will likely see 2 to 4 feet of water on it," he said in his most recent update on the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway. "Also consider that we may receive more rain between now and Feb. 6, and the NWS may revise their forecast in the future."

Korneliussen said an eight-man maintenance crew returned to the floodway on Wednesday to repair the plastic sheeting that was blown loose in a severe thunderstorm Jan. 22. Work then began on repairs to access roads at both the center and upper crevasses.

Korneliussen said the Mississippi Valley Division has indicated that the floodway is eligible for funding for complete restoration from the 2012 Disaster Relief Bill.

"However, an official announcement has not yet been made as to which projects will be funded," he said.

The Army Corps of Engineers has said last year's record spring floods could leave many people along the Mississippi River in even more danger this year

Officials are assessing the damage to levees, structures and navigation channels, and will begin notifying affected communities in February.

"We want to identify every place where we have problem areas. Once we have those identified, we get to those as quickly as we can before the next big flood. Hopefully, it doesn't come this year," Corps spokesman Bob Anderson said. "If it does come this year, that's when those communities in the areas of greater risk would need to be notified."

Congress gave the Corps $802 million in December to fix levees up and down the river.

Identifying the weakest points and letting people know where they are is part of that, Anderson said.

"A couple more areas that we haven't fixed but know where they are, are where the river tried to change course," Anderson said.

He said the biggest of those was just north of Tiptonville, Tenn.

The Associated Press contributed information to this story.

Pertinent address:

New Madrid, Mo.


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