Today we're going to be discussing levees and dams and are they actually creating additional flooding? Levees and dams have played a big role in flood protection all the way back to the 1850s.
 
 
 
Levees and Dams
 
As they were built on the Mississippi River to help protect communities all the way from south east United States around, the New Orleans area, and all the way up to Des Moines, Iowa and Minneapolis Minnesota. You know, these have been crucial parts of protecting some of these communities.
 
View of the Mississippi River from the Stone Arch Bridge at night in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
 
However, even all the way back into the 1850s Charles Ellett even warned that these dams and these levees could be creating flooding issues in other communities that couldn't necessarily afford these levees and dams. So today that's what we want to discuss. You know, levees and dams are very big and very crucial in areas like Houston, Texas, St Louis, Missouri, De Moines, Iowa, even parts of Memphis, Tennessee that are along these rivers.
 
 
 
As the water rises, those communities don't flood. What happens is levees, are built and only a certain amount of water can flow through. So what happens is many times this backlogs water upstream, which can cause flooding as we've seen in 2019 on the Missouri River and the Mississippi River. The Missouri River cresting five times in five months for the first time in history.
 
 
So as you can see, you know, having these levees can really cause an issue upstream and areas that may not have them because of the redirection of water. Yes, it might be protected that one community, but it might be flooding other communities. Another issue where levees can create major problems is when they're not built evenly.
 
 
So let's say you've got one community on one side of the Mississippi River and you've got another one on the other side, and one side decides to build higher levees because they have the resources and funding to do so. So as they do that, when the water comes in of course that higher community is protected, but what happens is then the lower community starts to flood.
 
Sunset over the Mississippi River and Marcy-Holmes, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
 
So when they do flood, a lot of these houses flooding. One major solution really here is what's called setback levees. Now, we don't have setback levees in the U.S.  these are popular in areas like Holland. In Holland they have what's called setback levees. These levees are not right along river source and instead sit back a good distance.
 
Maybe it's, it's a 100 or 200 yards. What happens is when the rivers overflow, they overflow up until these levees and these levees can actually do a better job of protecting. What it can also do is allows floodwater to enter these floodplains, which helps protect wetland areas. 
 
That concludes today's episode on levees and dams. Are they actually causing more flooding? Remember, if you have questions about flood insurance, maybe you live near Levee, maybe you live near dam, maybe you're in areas like Houston, Texas and St Louis, Missouri, De Moines, Iowa, New Orleans, Louisiana, and you want to figure out what's your best options are when it comes to flood insurance and mitigating your property? Please reach out to us Flood Insurance Guru. Our Youtube channel or Facebook page, the flood insurance guru, or we do our daily flood education videos. You can also give us a call, (205) 451-4294.
 
 
Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation
flood@communityfirstagency.com