More Than $30 Million in Disaster Relief Available for Levee, Navigation Repairs in Mississippi

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today said repairs to federal flood control projects and navigation improvements in Mississippi will be funded from more than $400 million in disaster relief approved by Congress to address flood damage that occurred in the Lower Mississippi River Valley in the winter and spring of 2016.

Cochran said more than $30 million of this lower Mississippi funding has been identified for use in Mississippi on at least 23 different Army Corps of Engineers projects to repair damages to levees, dikes and backwater improvements.

“Ongoing assessments of flood control systems, ports and navigation on the lower Mississippi indicate extensive and corrosive damage from flooding last winter and spring,” Cochran said. “The strength of the Mississippi River levee system is measured by its weakest link. It was important that the Army Corps of Engineers has resources to ensure viable navigation and flood protection on the Mississippi and its tributaries.”

Cochran, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was instrumental in ensuring that the Army Corps received emergency funding as the Congress approved a disaster recovery package. The disaster funding became law when President Obama signed the FY2017 continuing resolution (HR.2028) this weekend.

The continuing resolution provides the Army Corps with more than $400 million for improvements in the Lower Mississippi Valley. This funding is provided through the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, Operations and Maintenance account and the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program. This ongoing work is necessary to prevent another disaster like the great the flood of 1927, which caused the equivalent of more than $17 billion in damages.

The Mississippi River Commission assessed the MR&T system and determined that heavy rains and severe flooding caused by storms in December 2015 and March 2016 compounded the need for repairs already underway following the historic 2011 floods.

The Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners, the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board and the City of Vicksburg are among dozens of flood control districts, levee boards and port authorities that supported emergency appropriations to accelerate repairs on the lower Mississippi River.

Overall, $1.02 billion is available to the Army Corps nationwide to repair damage caused by floods, hurricane and other natural disasters. This assistance is in addition to regular FY2016 discretionary appropriations enacted by Congress.

The Lower Mississippi River Valley generally stretches from southern Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico and includes the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois.

MR&T, which was authorized by Congress following the devastating flood of 1927, is a comprehensive system of levees, floodways, channel and tributary basin improvements providing flood protection for approximately 4 million people and navigation benefits to the nation. It has saved taxpayers approximately 45 dollars for every 1 dollar invested in it since its inception.