High Water in the Mississippi River Valley

Published Feb. 27, 2018

VICKSBURG, Miss., – The Mississippi Valley Division (MVD), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is working alongside local, state and other federal agencies to help address and minimize flooding due to heavy rains on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and their principal tributaries. Four of MVD’s six districts – Rock Island District, Memphis District, Vicksburg District and New Orleans District – and division headquarters have activated their emergency operations centers to monitor and respond to the rising water.

“Strong coordination and communication between partners is an integral part of our ability to safely pass this high water,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Kaiser, commander, MVD. “We have a well-prepared, experienced team of emergency responders whose top priority is the safety of the public.”

With the current high-water conditions, MVD is in daily contact with its sister divisions, the Great Lakes & Ohio River Division (LRD), the Southwestern Division (SWD), and the Northwestern Division (NWD), as well as USACE headquarters. LRD manages the Ohio River System, including the capability of Barkley Lake on the Cumberland River and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River, to ease the flood crest in the Cairo, Illinois, area. Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. SWD monitors the river stages on several rivers that flow into the Mississippi River while NWD monitors the Missouri River that joins the Mississippi just above St. Louis.

Activation of emergency operations centers also means increased communication and coordination between the division and its six districts, including St. Paul District and St. Louis District.

“We are working as a regional team to fight this flood,” said Kaiser. “The amount of coordination and collaboration with other federal and state agencies, our sister Corps’ divisions, and with local communities, is always extremely important to the success of a flood fight.”


Day-to-day oversight and coordination of the Mississippi River’s flow and its watershed is the responsibility of the Mississippi Valley Division’s Watershed Division. MVD hydrologists and hydraulic engineers keep track of river stages in real-time using satellite links to gages, and they coordinate closely with multiple organizations, including the National Weather Service’s official forecast, to provide a picture of current and expected river conditions.


The comprehensive flood control project on the lower Mississippi River, the Mississippi River & Tributaries (MR&T) project, has provided unprecedented protection during four severe floods in the past decade. The MR&T project consists of four major features: a levee system that includes 3,787 miles of levees and floodwalls; four floodways, including Bonnet Carré, Morganza, Birds Point-New Madrid and the Atchafalaya; channel improvement and stabilization; and tributary basin improvements. While the current forecast does not indicate a need to activate the floodways, MVD staff members and District personnel have preemptively contacted local, state, and federal partners to facilitate open lines of communication in case activation of the floodways becomes necessary due to future forecasts.


The Mississippi Valley Division and its districts are working closely with state and local emergency responders to inspect, advise and assist communities with professional engineering expertise and flood-fight materials. The districts have supplied all of their staging areas with sandbags, pumps and polyethylene sheeting (roll plastic) to support local officials with their flood-fight efforts.


The Corps will continue to coordinate closely with other government agencies, communities, stakeholders, contractors and organizations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of local citizens along the impacted rivers and tributaries in the system. 

The Mississippi River drainage basin is the world’s third largest watershed and is home to the largest inland waterway navigation system with more than 12,000 miles of commercially navigable channels.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 18-016