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US Army Corps of Engineers
Mississippi Valley Division

Flood Season Preparedness

With the damaged condition of levees and other flood damage reduction structures and the seasonal spring floods in mind, the Corps created a Regional 2012 Flood Preparedness Team in order to mitigate flood risks to an already vulnerable system. The team is focusing on: 1). Risk identification – what are the risks? 2.) Risk mitigation – how are risks being addressed, and 3.) Communication - how are we communicating the information to our partners and stakeholders?

Risk Identification involves identifying areas at elevated risk using available damage assessment reports, after action reports from the flood, and the system performance evaluation interim report. This information is then reviewed by structural, hydraulics, and environmental staff to establish how the system will perform in its damaged condition and identify the risk of failure (e.g., operational and structural) and the consequences of failure (e.g., life safety, economic, and environmental). System risks will also be further detailed through the production of standardized inundation maps for select high risk areas.

Through Risk Mitigation the team is looking at the identified system risks and establishing how construction, interim measures, flood fight activities, and modified operation are being employed to reduce the risks.  Emergency Management and structural engineering staff have been working to identify and implement appropriate measures to reinforce week points in the system.  Trigger points will be determined for reservoirs and floodways in the event temporary changes in operation are required. Strategies will be developed that will maximize flood storage while effectively routing floodwaters. Summary documents will be created.

The risk communication processes and tools will be improved to better inform and prepare the public. From recent events, websites have been created to share up-to-date information including inundation maps, press releases, and communication pamphlets. A regional workshop is being scheduled for mid-February to enhance regional coordination efforts with multiple Federal and state agencies, district emergency managers, and stakeholders. The use of social media during the 2011 flood was vital to sharing the message. Regional communication plans will be developed.

This regional effort will set precedence for future flood preparedness in years out. After the seasonal floods, the teams will reconvene to discuss an after action review to continue to improve upon our risk identification, risk mitigation, and communication of those risks.