Epic flooding will test levee system as never before, experts say

(CNN) — Experts held out hope Monday that the floodwaters forecast for much of the Lower Mississippi River will exact a minimum toll in lives lost but appeared resigned to the likelihood that property losses would be steep.

“If the (Army) Corps of Engineers’ levee system holds, which I’m imagining it will, then the areas where water will be discharged is areas where water is planned to be discharged,” said Sam Bentley, the Harrison Chair in Sedimentary Geology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. “There will be property lost, hopefully no lives, but according to a plan executed by the Corps of Engineers as opposed to a rapidly unfolding catastrophe.”

But if there is a failure in the system of levees, “then the landscape changes considerably,” he warned.

“I wouldn’t say that this is going to be a disaster, but the modern Mississippi levee system has never been tested under flood conditions like this,” he said. “It’s probably going to exceed water levels not seen since the Great Flood of 1927: historically the largest ever measured.”

That flood led Congress in 1928 to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to build the system of levees and other controls now under stress.

The picture in the post shows that water from the flooded Mississippi River rises close to the Pyramid in downtown Memphis, Tenn., Monday, May 9, 2011

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Categories: United States, Weather

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