MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Mississippi River flooding of 2011 caused $2.8 billion in damage and tested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ system of levees, reservoirs and floodways like never before, exposing vulnerabilities that need attention, a report released Monday said.
The report from the corps said the flood hit 119 counties in the lower Mississippi River states of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. More than 21,000 homes and businesses and 1.2 million acres of agricultural land were affected, and more than 43,000 people felt some effects.
The Mississippi River and Tributaries system operated as it was designed and was mostly successful in fighting the flood along most of the nation’s most important inland waterway, the corps said. However, the spring floods exposed vulnerabilities in many parts of the system and the plans used to operate it. The report said there is room for improvement in nearly all areas.
“The magnitude of the event tested the system and its individual components like no flood before it,” the report said.
Nearly all of the levee or floodwall systems experienced some damage. The floodways at Birds Point-New Madrid in Illinois, and the Morganza Floodway and Bonnet Carre Spillway in Louisiana were opened to relieve the stress on the system, marking the first time that three floodways had been operated during a single flood, the report said.
Total economic damages were pegged at $2.8 billion. The corps spent nearly $60 million while directly fighting the flood from March to August.
Levee-related problems that emerged during included instability of levee slopes, seepage and sand boils, which are pools of water that bubble up near levees. The corps identified where repairs to levees and other parts of the system are needed and is using $802 million approved by Congress in 2011 to make critical and non-critical fixes “to prepare for the next high water event.”
Most will be completed this year, but several “critical repair” projects are expected to extend into 2015 and 2016.
“The system will be restored to a pre-flood condition and in some cases be a better system,” the report said.
The lengthy report identified several deficiencies exposed during the flood. In and near Cairo, Ill., city pumping stations could not be used due to poor maintenance _ resulting in localized flooding _ and some neighborhoods were under water as engineers fought to deal with growing sand boils.
There were river bank failures in President’s Island in Memphis and Tiptonville, both in Tennessee. Hundreds of homes in three Memphis-area trailer parks were inundated when two tributaries overtopped their banks.
High water in and around Eagle Lake, Miss., where levels were raised to offset pressure from the rising river, caused damage to piers and boat houses around the lake and affected boating and fishing.
In Louisiana, officials ordered mandatory evacuations for hundreds of residents in the Atchafalaya Basin after the Morganza floodway was opened. But flooding in those areas wound up being far less severe than the corps initially projected.
The corps said it was able to use technologies such as smart phones and social media to its advantage, at times.
“When they were not applied properly, confusion and frustration resulted and special rules for the proper use of social media were found to be needed,” the report said.
Other technology-related problems included poor cell phone reception in some remote areas, a shortage of phones and radios, and that too few people were trained to use some information collection and sharing tools at the beginning of the flood.
The report also said that the flood affected the estuarine system and the oyster industry in Mississippi Sound, Lake Borgne, and Breton Sound, La. Economic losses to the oyster industry in Mississippi alone in 2011 were approximately $60 million, according to the report.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl