Twenty one years after the Great Flood of 1993, which overwhelmed levees along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the City of St. Louis and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers celebrated the completion of the St. Louis Flood Protection Reconstruction Project with a ribbon cutting ceremony Nov. 14.
The $16 million reconstruction project that rehabilitated the aging infrastructure and addressed underseepage issues was a cost-shared partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District and the City of St. Louis. This partnership is an example of the shared responsibility that is necessary for flood risk management.
“Protecting people and property from the devastating impacts of a flood is a shared responsibility. We can’t do it alone,” said Col. Anthony Mitchell, commander of the Corps’ St. Louis District. “With the support of the City of St. Louis, we focused on the task at hand to reduce risk to the people and City of St. Louis.”
The project consists of 11 miles of flood protection with a combination of floodwalls and levees from Riverview Drive at Hall Street, south to Chippewa Street and serves as protection to more than 3,000 acres of homes and businesses along the St. Louis riverfront.
During the record setting ’93 flood, the Mississippi River crested to 49.58 feet; two feet from the top of the flood wall.
The Corps of Engineers St. Louis District’s Emergency Operation team, the City of St. Louis and the Metropolitan Sewer District worked hand-in-hand to fight the flood and reinforce the floodwall.
“While the worst case scenario was prevented, the flood of 1993 showed that the St. Louis Flood Protection System had design deficiencies that had to be corrected to ensure the system would function as designed. Restoring the St. Louis Flood Protection System to its authorized level of protection quickly became a top priority for the Corps of Engineers,” Mitchell said.
Rehabilitation of the system began in 2008 and included the installation of new gates at 22 closure structures, 10 permanently sealed closure structures, and installing 108 new relief wells needed to capture underground seepage to return it safely to the river.
“Today, the St. Louis Flood Protection System has been restored to its authorized level of protection. It is an investment that acknowledges the past, protects our future and continues the strong partnerships that will continue to protect this great city,” Mitchell added.