Flooding is the most common, costly and deadly natural disaster in the United States each year. One of the Corps of Engineers' main missions is providing assistance when natural disasters or other emergencies strike.
Emergency preparedness and response is primarily a state and local responsibility, but the Corps of Engineers is authorized to assist communities in pre-flood preparedness, during-flood and post-flood response.
Each year the St. Louis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts a series of flood preparedness workshops in four local communities covering the St. Louis District's 28,000-square mile area of responsibility to ensure they are prepared for the upcoming season.
"The flood preparedness workshops serve as an outlet for local levee and drainage districts to discuss any concerns or issues that they may have with us before spring flooding begins," Linda Werdebaugh, Natural Disaster Program Manager in the District's Readiness Branch said.
The workshops are designed for the National Weather Service to give the spring outlook and to have the Local and/or County Emergency Management Agency, State Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the St. Louis District discuss their roles in flood fight response and recovery efforts. The workshops also provide an opportunity for levee owners and the public to talk with the Corps and its partner agencies about any levee operation and maintenance problems and overall flood preparedness.
"These workshops are an important part of our shared responsibility to reduce flood risk to the people we serve," said Jake Scanlon, chief of the St. Louis District's Readiness Branch. "Communication between our partners at the local, state and federal level helps us to better prepare, respond and recover from floods."
The St. Louis District has more than 750 miles of levees in its area of responsibility, as well as five flood control reservoirs. Collectively, these structures prevented more than 3.4 billion dollars in damages during the floods of 2013.
Col. Anthony Mitchell, commander of the St. Louis District, welcomed partner agencies, levee boards and other local interests at the Jacksonville, Illinois flood prep workshop March 2. Mitchell cited his experience as commander in Nashville District during the 2010 flood, and stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration between local, state and federal partners.
"The intent is for you to walk away tonight with confidence that you have a host of agencies standing by to support you," Mitchell said.
In addition to the flood preparedness workshops, the St. Louis District uses the web and social media as an avenue to spread flood awareness tips and serves as a resource for timely and accurate information for the public. Visit us on the web at www.mvs.usace.army.mil and follow us at facebook.com/teamsaintlouis and twitter.com/teamsaintlouis.