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Report: Levees prevented $234 billion in damages in 2011 flood

The levees along the Mississippi River and its backwater tributaries generally did what they were supposed to do during the 2011 flood.

In the process, the levees prevented $234 billion in damages.

Those were two major takeaways from a pair of documents the Mississippi Valley Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released last Monday.

Data collection for The Mississippi River & Tributaries 2011 Post-Flood Report and Room for the River started in August 2011, about two months after the worst of the record-breaking flood, and concluded last December. The 350-page MR&T report documents the levees’ performance during the flood, and recommends ways to re-strengthen and improve the system. Room for the River is a 32-page summary of what the Vicksburg office of the Corps calls “facts, figures and lessons” officials learned during the high-water event.

On the whole, Corps officials said during and after the flood that the levee system — constructed after the 1927 flood whose water-level records the 2011 flood surpassed — did what it was designed to do. These two documents, they say, provide data to validate that claim.

The impact in Mississippi stretched almost the length of the state’s western border, formed by the river. Flooding shuttered casinos in Tunica, closed river operations in Greenville and Vicksburg and inundated farmland in the South Delta along the Yazoo River.

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