The USGS provides practical, unbiased information about the Nation's rivers and streams that is crucial in mitigating hazards associated with floods. This site provides information about the USGS activities, data, and services provided during regional high-flow events, such as hurricanes or multi-state flooding events. The USGS response to these events is typically managed by the National Floods Specialist.
In response to dangerous flood levels near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) activated the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway (New Madrid Floodway in USGS literature) at 10:03 pm on May 2, 2011 by detonating explosives along a stretch of the Mississippi River levee just downstream of Cairo, Illinois. The resulting inflow of water into the 130,000 acre floodway caused the Ohio river stage near Cairo to drop nearly 1/2 foot during the first hour of operation. Two additional inflow/outflow breaches were initiated at 12:40 pm on May 3 and at 2:39pm on May 5. The USGS provided vital floodway data to the USACE and other agencies.Click the title above or the photo at left to learn about USGS data collection efforts in the New Madrid Floodway
Corps to Repair Birds Point Levee - thesouthern.com, June 16, 2011
How Does the Mississippi River Change When the Levee Breaks? USGS article discussing the effects of the levee breach on the Mississippi River.
Birds Point Levee Explosion USGS article discussing the seismologic effects of the levee breach.
US Army Corps of Engineers Information Sheet describes the floodway, its origin, and the policies for its use.
CNN Interview with Bob Holmes, hydrologist with the USGS Office of Surface Water.
Corps shifts focus to East Prairie after final Birds Point breach - May 6, 2011 Southeast Missourian News Article
Timeline for Flood Crests map produced by the USDA shows flood crest predictions by the National Weather Service as of Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Final levee breach completed in plan to stem flooding in central U.S. (provided by CNN Wire Staff, May 5, 2011)
KFVS video: A close-up look at Birds Point Levee Breach (provided by KFVS, May 7, 2011)
America’s two “Great Rivers” flood at the same time - April 30, 2011 article and Photo from ValleyWatch
Cairo, Illinois and the force of Nature - May 1, 2011 article and Photo from ValleyWatch
2011 Floods of the Central United States - a collection of independent but complementary chapters dealing with various scientific aspects of the 2011 floods in the Central United States.
Assessment of Floodplain Vulnerability during Extreme Mississippi River Flood 2011 by Allison Goodwell and others, Feb. 10, 2014, American Chemical Society: Environmental Science and Technology
USGS personnel making a streamflow measurement at the inflow levee breach
USGS Landsat images of Ohio/Mississippi River confluence before and during floods of 2011
USGS personnel making a streamflow measurement at outflow #2 levee breach
Click here for more USGS 2011 flood photos