Team members assist Mississippi Valley Division flood preparedness—"Operation Watershed-Recovery"

Published May 2, 2012
Map of the continental United States.

Map of the continental United States.

May 2, 2012

Public Affairs Office

VICKSBURG, Miss. — Flood control planners will soon be privy to detailed information on the Mississippi Valley region's flooding potential and current priority repairs. Named "Operation Watershed-Recovery," this valuable compilation showcases the tremendous efforts of the Corps' Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) experts, with ERDC team members as major contributors.

USACE regional flood preparedness teams carefully analyzed damage assessments from last spring's massive flooding in developing plans for risk reduction measures and ranking of most-needed repairs. These assessments centered on flood-damaged structures, navigation channels and levees along the Mississippi River.

"Each damaged location has been characterized by its likelihood of failure and potential consequences if there is a failure," said Scott Whitney, MVD's regional flood risk manager, as quoted in a Mississippi Business Journal article. "This information will be communicated through information papers and via a Web-based mapping application called CorpsMap."

Information distributions began in February and continue as the regional flood preparedness team completes risk document templates. Whitney recognized ERDC team members’ accomplishments in various phases of this important focus on flooding and public preparation.

 Damage Assessments Oversight Team

One ERDC team helped develop the regional prioritization process under the leadership of Dr. James Valverde who is based at USACE Headquarters as special assistant to the Environmental Laboratory (EL) director.

Team members focusing on prioritization and producing the report, "Assets Ranking Methods for Operation Watershed," included Dr. Igor Linkov, Zachary Collier, Matthew Bates, Dr. Todd Bridges, ERDC-EL, and Fausto Morales, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology intern.

Linkov explained, "In order to prioritize repairs to damaged infrastructure in the wake of the historic floods of 2011, MVD organized the Damage Assessment Oversight Committee (DAOC), tasked with compiling a ranked list of repairs. The resulting rankings were based on expert judgments regarding the likelihood and consequences of asset failure and considered risk criteria such as potential loss of life and economic damages."

He added that ERDC recommended the use of formal decision analytical tools in follow-up analysis and prioritization refinement, and that these tools can efficiently augment the prioritization of damaged assets with results that are transparent, scalable, analytically rigorous, and defensible.

 MRT post flood report and flood season preparedness

Whitney said several other ERDC multidisciplinary scientists and engineers provided major contributions in assessing potential spring flood concerns, inundated locations, priority repairs and vulnerability of various flood- risk reduction systems.

For sharing these helpful assessments, Whitney cited the use of CorpsMap development for public access to the damage and risk information papers and construction fact sheets.

He commended ERDC Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) Physical Scientist Mike Smith with the Remote Sensing/Geographic Information Systems Center (RS/GISC) and Water Resources Branch, for his vital role as the responsible contributor "for the ability to host this publicly. I had the idea for the external access to CorpsMap, but he provided the means and expertise to do it. He also has helped in creating layers, getting the National Levee Database (NLD) data, trouble shooting issues, data management advice and, most importantly, programming in CorpsMap."

Whitney said CRREL Hydraulic Engineer Bryan Baker, with the RS/GIS and Water Resources Branch was involved in providing MVD NLD data, "and these are just some of the ERDC personnel that have provided valuable service to our teams on various components of Operation Watershed—Recovery."