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Mississippi River levee repairs underway near Greenville

Workers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in the Greenville area to repair several levee slides after the area had high water earlier this year.

Forty slides have been found along the 212mile Mississippi Levee District, which runs from the Gulf of Mexico to Cairo, Illinois. The Delta Democrat-Times reported that 14 of those are in Washington County, Mississippi.

The corps’ labor crew started working in the county a couple of weeks ago and will stay through late summer before heading south. The Mississippi Levee Board’s chief engineer, Peter Nimrod, said workers will make repairs through the fall.

“The corps’ hired labor crew does other projects, but in the summer they work exclusively on slides,” Nimrod said. “They’re a hard working crew, and they do a great job.”

Levee slides are a superficial problem that only look scary, Nimrod said, noting slides can give off the impression the levee is unraveling.

In midJanuary, the Mississippi River crested at 56.2 feet in Greenville, a record high for that month and the sixth highest ever since the 1927 flood.

After a brief dropping period, the river rose again to 43.6 feet in midMarch after a heavy rain system moved through the Delta.

Before the heavy rainfalls drenched the area in March, Nimrod said there were 24 slides spotted along the levee district, five of which were in Washington County.

Although the extra rain caused more slides to appear, Nimrod said workers couldn’t start repairing the slides until the land was dry.

“You don’t want to work on those slides when it’s still wet and when the river’s up,” he said. “You really want to wait until this time of year or summer before you start working on them.”

Nimrod said crews dig out all the material in the slide and let it air out, which sometimes takes a few days. Then, they mix the removed material with lime, which Nimrod described as a substance that resembles baby powder, and pack it back into the levee.

“The lime changes the properties of the soil and then they pack it back into the levee,” he said.

The final step is seeding the land for grass to grow. Repairing one slide can take as long as two weeks to complete.

“If the weather is at all bad, if it rains or anything, then we can’t do any work,” Nimrod said. “You’re kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature at that point. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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