Every year floods sweep through communities across the United States taking lives, destroying property, shutting down businesses, harming the environment and causing millions of dollars in damages. Nearly 94 million acres of land in the United States are at risk for flooding.
Since the enactment of the Flood Control Act of 1917, one of the primary missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is to support flood risk management activities in communities, both urban and rural, throughout the country. The Corps' mission and its implementation has evolved over time, moving from flood control to flood damage reduction and now, most recently flood risk management.
The Corps helps put in place measures designed to reduce risks from flood hazards to people, homes and businesses. The Corps also provides people who live and work in floodplains with the information they need to know about flood hazards and the actions that they themselves can take to reduce property damage and to prevent the loss of life caused by flooding.
The Corps is responsible for constructing and operating 383 major lake and reservoir projects, building over 8,500 miles of levees and dikes, developing about 90 major shoreline protection projects along 240 miles of the nation's 2,700 miles of shoreline, building hundreds of smaller local flood risk reduction projects that have been turned over to non-Federal authorities for operation and maintenance, and implementing several non-structural projects to reduce susceptibility to flood damages.
The responsibility for managing flood risks is shared across the Federal, state and local levels of government and the private sector. In May 2006, the Corps established the National Flood Risk Management Program which seeks to integrate Corps flood risk management activities, both internally and with counterpart activities of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other Federal agencies, state organizations and regional and local agencies. This program provides current and accurate floodplain information to the public and decision makers. One example of a successful collaborative effort with state and Federal agencies is the Silver Jackets program which develops and supports continuous interagency flood risk management teams at the state level.
The Corps provides information, technical assistance and planning guidance (paid for by the Federal Government) to states and local communities to help them address floodplain management issues and this is called The Floodplain Management Services Program. Typical focus areas are wetland assessment, dam safety/failure, flood damage reduction, floodplain management, and coastal zone management and protection.
Over the past 30 years, the Corps has completed 3,000 studies for FEMA, mapping the flood potential of various areas of the country. The Corps also has been instrumental in training private firms to carry out similar studies. These measures are designed to reduce risks from flood hazards to people and their homes and businesses. Funding for flood and coastal storm damage reduction activities represents approximately 30% of the Corps' annual Civil Works budget authority.
Recent flood risk management or flood damage reduction projects undertaken by the Corps throughout the nation include the Tug Fork and Levisa Fork areas of West Virginia and Kentucky, the Midwest Floods of June 2008, Johnson Creek in Arlington, Texas, the Napa (CA) River drainage basin, and the Snoqualmie (WA) Flood Reduction Project.