US Army Corps of Engineers
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Frequently Asked Questions

During a flood event, what does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers do?

The Corps works with fellow federal and state agencies, as well as local communities, to manage the storm runoff and mitigate damage as much as possible. It also provides technical assistance before, during, and after flood events. This assistance can range from how to place sandbags to helping design a permanent flood control structure. The Kansas City District’s mission is to provide timely, effective, flood emergency assistance. Our assistance during a flood event is intended to meet the immediate threat to life or improved property.

 

What else does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers do in a time of emergency?

The Corps has authority under PL 84-99, Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) (33 U.S.C. 701n) (69 Stat. 186) for emergency management activities. Under PL 84-99, the Chief of Engineers, acting for the Secretary of the Army, is authorized to undertake activities including disaster preparedness, Advance Measures, emergency operations (Flood Response and Post Flood Response), rehabilitation of flood control works threatened or destroyed by flood and provisions of emergency water due to drought or contaminated source.

 

Will the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provide sandbags to private citizens?

The Corps is only authorized to provide sandbags and pumps to cities and local levee districts. Private citizens should contact their local levee district and emergency management offices for assistance in getting these materials.

 

At what point during a flood event does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers order an evacuation?

The Corps does not authorize evacuation orders or boiling orders, we provide information and updates to authorities so they can make those determinations.

 

What is the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act?

The Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act establishes an emergency fund for preparedness for emergency response to natural disasters; for flood fighting and rescue operations; for rehabilitation of flood control and hurricane protection structures. Funding for USACE emergency response under this authority is provided by Congress through the annual Energy and Water Development Appropriation Act. Disaster preparedness activities include coordination, planning, training and conduct of response exercises with local, state and federal agencies.

 

Why are some levees non-federal?

Non-federal levees are privately built. They are built without any federal participation. They are not inspected annually. They are not built to federal specifications or with federal money. Non-federal levees are not as high as federal levees, and they are usually on the edge of the river. Federal levees are federally authorized and built. Most federal levees are built to the 100-year flood level plus three feet. In Kansas City, federal levees are built to the 500-year flood level. There are some non-federal levees in a federal program which are privately built. They are in a maintenance and operation program and get inspected every two years. If they remain in compliance with our program, they are eligible for cost sharing for rebuilding if they are damaged by floods.

 

What is the 100-year and 500-year flood level?

The 100-year flood level protects against a flood that has a nominal one percent chance of happening in any given year. A 500-year flood protects against a flood that has two-tenths of a percent chance of occurring in any given year.

 

What kind of protection does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provide for levees?

Under the authority of PL 84-99, an eligible flood protection system can be rehabilitated if damaged by a flood event. The flood system would be restored to its pre-disaster status at no cost to the federal system owner, and at 20 percent cost to the eligible non-federal system owner. All systems considered eligible for PL 84-99 rehabilitation assistance have to be in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP) prior to the flood event. Acceptable operation and maintenance by the public levee sponsor are verified by levee inspections conducted by the Corps on a regular basis. The Corps has the responsibility to coordinate levee repair issues with interested federal, state, and local agencies following natural disaster events where flood control works are damaged.

 

Besides federal and non-federal levees, how else are levees classified?

There are two general types of levees: Agricultural levees protect primarily farm fields and provide a level of protection (approx. 15-20 years) appropriate based on the value of assets protected. Urban design levees provide higher levels of protection to population centers and large commercial-industrial properties.

 

What can citizens do to stay up to date on the current situation?

Citizens should monitor media for weather predictions. If they feel threatened or have specific questions about their property or flood fighting measures, they should contact their county emergency preparedness offices for that help. They in turn will aggregate needs and raise them to higher levels, including the Corps, for possible help.

 

How is this flood event different from the 1993 flood event?

The 1993 event resulted in flooding following a series of regular storms which developed a sustained level of runoff through the local basins. While the recent storms were substantial, we are currently monitoring a single maximum crest throughout the Missouri River basin and anticipate the federal levees to work as designed.