USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
1 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A ceremonial ribbon stands at the entrance to the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project, ready to be cut to mark completion of a $7.9 million levee channel clearing project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
2 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Boone Bowling, mayor of Middlesboro, Kentucky, speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
3 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Michael Lapina, Eastern Kentucky Area operations project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
4 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Paul Long, pastor of Life Church, speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
5 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – City officials and team members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District listen to remarks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
6 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Middlesboro, Kentucky Mayor Boone Bowling, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District Eastern Kentucky Area Operations Project Manager Michael Lapina, and Mohawk Valley Materials Northeast Director of Operations Eric Hale cut a ribbon, marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
7 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Middlesboro, Kentucky city officials, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District teammates, and Mohawk Valley Materials employees stand together for a group photo following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
8 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Middlesboro, Kentucky Mayor Boone Bowling, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District Eastern Kentucky Area Operations Project Manager Michael Lapina, and Mohawk Valley Materials Northeast Director of Operations Eric Hale cut a ribbon, marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
9 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Middlesboro, Kentucky Mayor Boone Bowling, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District Eastern Kentucky Area Operations Project Manager Michael Lapina, and Mohawk Valley Materials Northeast Director of Operations Eric Hale cut a ribbon, marking completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
10 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Water flows through Yellow Creek and the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. A $7.9 million project to clear the project's levee channel was completed in 2023, restoring it's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
11 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Mohawk Valley Materials employees stand for a group photo following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark completion of a $7.9 million project to clear the levee channel of the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. The channel clearing restored the project's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL
USACE and Middlesboro celebrate completion of levee channel clearing
12 / 12 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Water flows through Yellow Creek and the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project in Middlesboro, Ky., Dec. 14, 2023. A $7.9 million project to clear the project's levee channel was completed in 2023, restoring it's capacity to protect Kentuckians from flooding. (U.S. Army photo by Avery Schneider) (Photo Credit: Avery Schneider) VIEW ORIGINAL

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local officials, and residents are celebrating the completion of clearing the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project’s levee channel.

The work restores the levee’s capacity to protect Kentuckians, their homes, and local businesses and infrastructure from flooding after more than a decade of sediment build-up in Yellow Creek.

The tight-knit community of Middlesboro sits in a crater formed by a meteorite. Surrounded by mountains, the city is prone to run-off.

“Flooding is a huge issue here,” said Middlesboro Mayor Boone Bowling.

Yellow Creek and its tributaries flow through the heart of the city, bordered by its middle and high school campus, a church, the Bell County airport, businesses, and homes for some of Middlesboro’s more-than 9,300 residents.

When USACE’s planning for the channel clearing began in 2019, the budget was just $1.9 million, and the project’s scope only included removing sediment. In fiscal year 2021, an additional $4.2 million in Funding Pot funds were added.

“As things progressed…the Bipartisan Infrastructure [Law] was passed, leading to funding to do more robust channel clearing and to armor sections of the levee with concrete-filled articulated mats,” explained Michael Lapina, Eastern Kentucky Area operations project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s additional $1.8 million brought the total for the 100 percent federally funded project up to $7.9 million.

Work began in December 2021 by USACE’s contractor, New York-based Mohawk Valley Materials. When it was completed in November 2023, they had removed a total 76,560 cubic yards of built-up sediment and vegetation and installed 19,360 square yards of the articulated mats.

The mats, placed just under the surface soil of the levee at critical points, greatly reduce the risk of structural failure if the levee is ever overtopped.

USACE worked with the Commonwealth of Kentucky to partner with Double Mountain Mining, helping the company reclaim their Middlesboro complex, and permit disposal of sediment from the channel at the mine site after testing to ensure it was free of contaminants.

“It was good material. You use it to reclaim a mine site – it’s a win-win situation,” Lapina said.

Flood damages prevented by the Middlesboro Flood Protection Project total an estimated $851 million since it was built by USACE in 1938. It remains the only federally funded levee in the USACE Nashville District’s Operations and Maintenance portfolio and has never failed in its 85 years of service.

With channel clearing complete, the capacity of the levee is restored, and its structure is re-enforced.

“For what was here the last 85 years and then to get a big makeover, and the new strength we’re seeing…I think that just re-affirms the safety measure for 85 more years and I think everybody sleeps a little better at night.”

Bowling noted that the city hopes to build on the success of the USACE project, making flood protection a priority in the next few years.