RED WING, Minn. - In early March, Corps staff filled sandbags at Lock and Dam 3 near Red Wing, Minnesota, in anticipation of spring flooding. With water predicted to rise above the lockwall, personnel from several lock and dam sites assisted with flood mitigation efforts.For the past two years, the National Weather Service predicted that the Mississippi River was more than 50 percent likely to exceed the lock walls. Corps staff prepared for the worst by securing 75 feet of plywood to the lock’s hand railing, installing concrete and plastic jersey barriers and filling 12,000 sandbags. “Our goal is to mitigate the effect of high water on lock infrastructure as much as possible,” said Tim Tabery, Lock and Dam 3 lockmaster.In any flood year, the majority of sandbags at Lock and Dam 3 are dedicated to protecting the first concrete pier house. Situated between the lock and the dam, the island on which the pier house is constructed must be fortified with 8,000 to 10,000 sandbags to prevent the pier house from eroding and washing away in a flood. The pier house contains electricity that powers the dam, as well as a stairway to get across the bridge and move the gates.This year’s sandbagging process was more efficient than usual. Last year Corps staff filled sandbags at Lock and Dam 3 throughout the entire month of March. This year, staff filled 6,000 sandbags in just two days by borrowing a sandbag-filling machine from the neighboring Prairie Island nuclear power plant. Not only did the machine reduce labor hours, time and injury risk, it eliminated the need to manually fill sandbags with shovels and PVC tubes. Tabery stated that additional cost-saving measures are being considered, including water barriers, more concrete jersey barriers and a permanent structure to protect the pier house island.Even with the machine, the sandbagging process was labor intensive. Ten employees filled each bag half to three-quarters full, to allow room for the sand to settle. Once filled, the 30-40 pound sandbags were stacked on pallets and moved by forklift to the storage area, ready for placement.This year’s flood mitigation process was time consuming and required many hands. Tabery said he remains grateful for the contributions of Corps employees to Lock and Dam 3 flood preparation efforts. “I’d like to thank my colleagues from up and down the river who helped us prepare for this year’s flood season.”-30-