Southwestern Greene County residents will have an eye cast towards the river over the winter. The Army Corps of Engineers recently wrapped up work for the year on the Nutwood Levee after the completion of temporary mitigation efforts after the Spring’s devastating floods. Suzanne Casseau, Public Affairs Specialist for the Greater St. Louis Area U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, explains some of the plans for the levee: “What has been done to this point is stabilization of the breach and the installation of a coffer dam so that two things can happen. First, that some protection can happen that can be continually monitored and improved as needed until Step 2. The other thing that is going on is that we have further damages to assess and fix beyond just that breach. This is true throughout the entire levee system.”
Casseau says they have to submit those reports in completion so that the area can receive the maximum amount of funding possible so that every levy system along the rivers can be fixed. Greene County residents, though, still feel like that a potential flood could still happen as the area remains just below flood stage and is slated to remain around flood stage for the remainder of the winter. “The Corps keeps constant communication with the levee districts not just during flood events,” Casseau said, “The work that has been done is not being walked away from. The work that’s being done is stopping so that in the Spring, we can provide a more complete and financially responsible repair to that area. Rather than do it in a hurry and at a higher cost and a less thought out response, we think it’s best to come back and put in a more stable and lower taxpayer cost repair in the Spring.”
Casseau says that the Corps is well aware of the threat of spring rain: “Until we return in the Spring, communication is going to remain very high so that should there be a threat, it shouldn’t be a surprise. We should see it coming. We should know what the impact is, and we are always aware of what the risk is. The first priority is to protect human life, and that’s always true. In this case that’s absolutely true.”
Casseau says that future design for mitigation efforts are to be determined on improvements on the levee district: “I can’t speak to what will be designed because that will be in conjunction with all parties concerned with the levees, the levy districts, the engineers. All of that will be developed together. That is not a stand-alone decision. The Public law 84-99 repair funds from the federal government are to replace what was there. Improvements are a whole different discussion that involves funding at different levels outside of the PL84-99 funds.”
For now, the coffer dam and repairs to scour holes created by the breach that happened during this Spring’s historic flooding will remain to keep out the flood stage that remains in the area this week. The Nutwood levee protects one of the only access points in and out of Calhoun County and also is one of the largest farming districts in Greene County.