Reading Around the Internet (March 20, 2014)

A few items worth noting this week:

It’s National Flood Safety Awareness Week!

NOAA and FEMA are working to raise flood safety awareness and teach safety techniques. In addition to the link above, you can find more information about flood safety, including what to do before, during and after a flood at the National Weather Service site.

Colorado Flood Recovery

Colorado is receiving another $199 million from the federal government from U.S. Housing and Urban Development. The money will be used for housing repairs as well as economic development, infrastructure and flood protection. According to KKTV, 80% of the funds will be used in Weld, Boulder and Larimer Counties. The new funding is in addition to the $63 million that HUD awarded in Colorado in December.

Still Recovering from the 2011 Floods

The Southern Illinoisan reports that FEMA has awarded a $4.14 million Flood Mitigation Assistance grant to Alexander County. The money will be used to purchase 167 properties located in the Mississippi River floodplain that were damaged during the 2011 flood. The funds will pay for the demolitions of the property, and the land on which they currently sit will be left as open space.

Reading Around the Internet

I am so sorry we haven’t been able to post this week on our regular schedule. My mom had a total hip replacement, and I’m with her, helping out. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t done any reading. There’s several issues I’ve been tracking for some time that showed up in my news feeds this week:

River Training Structures in the Mississippi

The question of whether the US Army Corps of Engineers should install river training structures in the area has been discussed for years. The Corps recently held a public meeting concerning the Environmental Assessments for the Grand Tower Phase 5 Project and the Dogtooth Bend Phase 5 project, both of which are part of the St. Louis District’s Regulating Works Program. The Grand Tower project is located in the Middle Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau County, MO and Union County, IL, near the city of Cape Girardeau. The Dogtooth Bend project is located in the Middle Mississippi River near Scott and Mississippi County, Missouri and Alexander County, IL (about 3 1/2 miles downstream from Commerce, MO). How this would affect the levees in the area remains a question in the minds of many in the area who oppose these projects. The concern is that the training structures would increase the pressure on the levees during high water, making flooding a greater danger in the area. The Corps, however, believes that the river training structure would decrease the need to dredge and add to the natural scouring of the river bottom. Less dredging, they believe, would also damage natural wildlife habitats.

The public comment period (including submission of written comments) ends March 7th. Corps’ draft environmental assessment for the Dogtooth Bend Phase 5 can be found here, and environmental assessment for the Grand Tower Phase 5 project can be found here. Local Channel 6 covered the February 19th meeting, and included the address for written comments as well as the deadline.

Agriculture and Flooding

Once again, analyses of what, if any, agricultural losses were suffered by farmers during the 2011 flood is the subject of research at the University of Illinois. Professor Ken Olson at the U of IL has published a study of the impact of the floods on southern Illinois Agriculture, which is nicely summarized here by

Reading about flooding and farming always sends me out to look for other information. The EPA has a page with advice for farmers and agricultural landowners.  You can find it here. Also, All Hazards also has some interesting thoughts about how to plan for flooding here.

The Cost of Rebuilding

Want to know how much recovering from a disaster costs? Well, it varies, frankly, by location and what type of recovery is needed. For example, the Insurance Journal is reporting that more than $267 million dollars (state/federal assistance) has been received by Colorado survivors of the September 2013 flooding. Much of that has been in the form of disaster grants, flood insurance payments and low-interest disaster loans (more than $219 million), and another $48 million has been promised by FEMA for further assistance.