Archive for the 'levees' Category

Toxic Floods Hit US Northeast Coast

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.net

“Relentless rain has caused catastrophic flooding in the eastern United States, killing at least five people and forcing the evacuation of more than 130,000 in three states.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee swamped homes and businesses from Maryland to New England on Thursday and dropped up to 30cm of rain outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which declared a state of emergency.

Floodwaters are now polluted with sewage and other toxins and officials warn that public health in parts of the northeastern US could be at risk from direct exposure or contaminated private water wells.

Flood warnings were in effect in northern Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and upstate New York, and flood watches were under way in other areas from Massachusetts to Washington DC, according to the National Weather Service.

In Vermont, a dozen towns flooded by Irene are still on boil-water orders 12 days later, though no waterborne illness has been reported. Similar precautions have been taken in other storm-damaged states.

Vermont’s state health department is giving away free test kits so residents can check their wells for bacteria.

Al Jazeera’s senior meteorologist, Steff Gaulter says that despite the intense activity the hurricane season is not over yet.

“The Atlantic hurricane season lasts until the end of November, so there’s plenty of time for yet more storms to strike the US and cause yet more flooding.”

Read more: Aljazeera

11,000 people ordered to evacuate North Dakota town as bloated Souris River threatens levees

Photo retrieved from: www.thewashingtonpost.com

“About 11,000 Minot residents are being ordered to leave their homes even earlier than expected this week as the Souris River gets closer to swamping the North Dakota city with the worst flooding in four decades, officials said Tuesday.

Mayor Curt Zimbelman said about a quarter of the city’s residents were being told to evacuate by 6 p.m. Wednesday, and officials plan to sound the warning sirens if water spills over Minot’s protective levees before that looming deadline. Authorities had previously encouraged people to be gone later that night.

“Public safety is paramount,” Zimbelman said during an afternoon news conference. “The water is rising fast, and people need to get evacuated as soon as possible.”

The Souris River that loops down from Canada through north central North Dakota is bloated by heavy spring snowmelt and rain on both sides of the border.”

Read more: The Washington Post

 

 

‘Unprecedented’ Summerlong Flood Threatens Missouri River Dams and Levees

Photo retrieved from: www.latimes.com

“The resulting flooding could last along the river until mid-August, they said, threatening communities stretching from Montana to Missouri.

“There are some extremely high water levels that will persist for quite a period of time,” said Lynn Maximuk, director of the National Weather Service’s central region. “The rises along the Missouri have been caused by really a year’s worth of rainfall across the basin over the last two weeks. In addition, snowfall in the mountains is at about 140 percent of normal.”

That has created “unprecedented” runoff that federal officials say can no longer be contained within the six dams built to tame the Missouri’s flows.

The Army Corps of Engineers is planning to release record amounts of water at all six dams, said Kevin Grode, Missouri Basin Reservoir Regulation Team leader for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Flows at Fort Peck Dam in Montana, the highest dam in the Missouri River system, will reach 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) tomorrow, besting the previous record of 45,000 cfs set in 1975.”

Read more: The New York Times

 

Levees going up to protect South Dakota cities

Photo retrieved from: www.hosted.ap.org

“Crews raced approaching floodwaters Tuesday to complete emergency levees aimed at protecting South Dakota’s capital city and two other towns as the swollen Missouri River rolled downstream from the Northern Plains. Meanwhile, the mayor of Minot, N.D., ordered a quarter of the city’s residents to evacuate areas along the flooding Souris River.

Residents of the upscale community of Dakota Dunes in southeastern South Dakota, below the final dam on the river, have been told to move their possessions to higher ground and be ready to leave their homes by Thursday, a day before releases from the dams are set to increase again.

Several thousand people in Pierre, the state capital, and neighboring Fort Pierre on the west bank have been working day and night since late last week to lay sandbags around their homes and move to safety.

Those forced to leave their homes may not be able to return for two months or more. No evacuation orders had been issued Tuesday in South Dakota, but many people in the three cities had already moved to safer places.”

Read more: Associated Press

 

Satellite Images Show Large Sediment Plumes From Flooding

Satellite image shows the large amount of sediment that has been deposited along the coastline and wetlands of Louisiana. Retrieved from: www.cnn.com

“Dramatic satellite images show large deposits of sediment in coastal Louisiana, the receiving end of the massive flooding on the Mississippi River.

The sediment gush has a down and up side in region known for its seafood and delicate wetlands, a federal official said Friday.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA recently provided the stark imagery of the sediment plumes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Louisiana to assist them with flood response.

“We live in historic times,” said Phil Turnipseed, director of the USGS’s National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The tan and brown plumes resulted from millions of gallons of sediment-laden freshwater rushing to the Gulf through spillways, river channels and levees.

See flooding map from USGS

A map on the USGS website allows users to call up the plumes and see flood data collected by government agencies.

The opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway caused a sediment plume in Lake Pontchartrain above New Orleans. Another plume resulted from the opening of the Morganza Spillway and flooding on the Atchafalaya River. The third is where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico.”

Read more: CNN

 

River crests in Memphis; states downstream prepare

Photo retrieved from: www.ap.org

“The Mississippi crest rolled past Memphis on Tuesday, going easy on much of the city, yet downriver in the mostly poor, fertile Delta region, floodwaters washed away crops, damaged hundreds of homes and closed casinos key to the state’s economy.

In Vicksburg, home of a pivotal Civil War battle, the river was forecast to peak slightly above the record level set during the flood of 1927. Some places were already several feet underwater and the river wasn’t expected to peak here until Saturday.

Wearing rubber boots and watching fish swim up and down his street, William Jefferson stood on a high spot in his neighborhood. He said hasn’t had a hot meal since water started coming into his house a few days ago.

Now, it’s inundated with at least three feet water, as are dozens of other homes in the neighborhood. Nearby, his brother Milton cast a fishing rod.

“At least we can catch something fresh to eat, because we ain’t got no icebox or electricity,” he said with a smile. Then the pair playfully debated about whether they would actually eat anything caught in the filthy floodwaters.

“If you eat a fish right now, you won’t live to see the water go down,” William Jefferson said.

Nearly 600 households had suffered water damage, some more extensive than others, said Greg Flynn, a spokesman for the state emergency management agency. The residences ranged from run-down farmhouses to modest, one-story homes.”

Read more: Taunton Daily Gazette

 

Hopes Rise as Rivers Fall

River levels began to fall after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew a hole in a Missouri levee to ease pressure on dams protecting towns where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi. Joe Barrett has from Sikeston, Missouri. Photo retrieved from: www.wsj.com

“As of 9 p.m. local time Tuesday, the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill., —which had been mandatorily evacuated—had fallen by more than a foot and a half, to 59.95 feet from 61.72 feet before the 10 p.m. explosion Monday.

“It saved our town,” said Cheryl James, a resident of Mounds, Ill., where river waters began to recede overnight. The water had been up to her second step Monday night. On Tuesday, her sidewalk was dry.

The sense of relief in Mounds and other river towns came at the sacrifice of Missouri farmers who cultivate more than 130,000 acres in the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway now inundated by the controlled breaching of the levee.

What once had been a broad vista of well-tended farms was replaced Monday by a vast lake, with treetops and some farm buildings poking through the surface of the water. Worried growers took up positions with binoculars along the levee, along with cattle seeking dry land.

“We hope that by blowing the levee that it did help somebody,” said Ray Presson, 56 years old, who farms 2,400 acres that were under several feet of water. “It didn’t help us much, for sure.”

Farmers filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking class-action status, charging that the Corps wrongfully took their property by allowing water to deluge the floodway. More than 50 farmers gathered at a Charleston, Mo., library to listen to lawyers filing the lawsuit. Lester Goodin, who farms 560 acres, said he signed up as a plaintiff to make sure he would have the wherewithal to rebuild once the water subsides.”

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

 

Army Corps Blows Up Missouri Levee

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“The Mississippi River, already at record levels here, keeps rising, fed by punishing rains. As the flood protection systems that safeguard countless communities groan under the pressure, federal officials executed a fiercely debated plan to destroy a part of the levee holding back the river in the area Mr. Bennett calls home for the greater good of the region.

With a flash of light and a massive rumbling that shook windows miles away, the Army Corps of Engineers set off explosives at 10 p.m. along the first of several sections of the earthen barrier, sending 550,000 cubic feet of water a second across the 130,000 acres of farmland known as the spillway. There were 90 homes in the spillway, but under the cover of darkness it was impossible to gauge the initial devastation. “This doesn’t end this historic flood,” said Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, who commands the Mississippi Valley Division of the corps, explaining that the river may rise again in a few days. “This is not the end, this is just the beginning.”

Col. Vernie L. Reichling Jr., commander of the corps’ Memphis District, said the blast was successful, calling it “historic as well as tragic.”

The move was a desperate effort to lower the river, which had climbed to about 61 feet in nearby Cairo, Ill., to head off calamity up- and downriver. In Illinois, the pressure on the levee created a geyser, forcing the evacuation of Cairo. In Louisiana, there was concern about whether levees could survive a record flood.”

Read more: NY Times

 

China risks civil strife with support for foreign dams: activists

“Chinese support for controversial dam-building schemes around the world risks a backlash from affected communities and even violence due to a lack of transparency and the ignoring of residents’ wishes, activists said on Wednesday.

“Chinese companies and banks are becoming deeply involved in such projects in Africa and Asia, and despite a growing awareness they have to be more transparent and accountable, this frequently does not happen, the activists said.

“”We are dismayed to see a reckless role of many companies,” Peter Bosshard, policy director of California-based International Rivers, told the Foreign Correspondents Club of China.

“”There is still often a complete lack of transparency and consultation, particularly with civil society groups in the host countries,” he added.

“Beijing says that Chinese companies operating abroad have to comply with relevant national laws and that they must respect people there and the environment.

“Rights groups say this frequently does not happen.

“In Myanmar, Chinese companies are building or funding some particularly divisive dam schemes, Bosshard said.

“”If such huge infrastructure projects go forward, the (Myanmar) army takes over and occupies the villages,” he said.

“”There’s no question that the indigenous populations are very unhappy with these projects which they see as an extension of military rule in Burma, and that this will lead to serious conflict.”"

Read more: Reuter