Canadian Underwriter

Precipitation contributes to major flooding on Mississippi River

January 4, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Flooding on the Mississippi River is “approaching or even exceeding” the flood levels reached in 2011, Verisk Analytics Inc.’s AIR Worldwide unit warned last week.

Major flooding occurred on the Mississippi River in the United States

The United States mid-western region “has endured repeated precipitation events in the last month, including a significant snowfall over the Thanksgiving holiday,” stated Hemant Chowdhary, principal scientist at Boston-based AIR Worldwide, in a press release Dec. 31. “Meltwater from the resulting snowpack contributed to the high volumes observed in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. In mid-December, another winter storm brought heavy snowfall to the Plains states and severe rain throughout the Mississippi River Valley. In southern Missouri, over 10 inches of rain fell in a period of 36 hours.”

At the time, AIR Worldwide said the Mississippi River was expected to reach its third highest level on record in St. Louis.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the Mississippi was receding, except in the far southern tips of Illinois and Missouri.

AIR reported Dec. 31 that severe storms in Texas and the midwest over the weekend of Dec. 26-27 “brought incredibly heavy rains to the region around the intersection of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.” Then on Dec. 28 and 29, precipitation continued to fall in the region.

“As large-scale flash flooding from these weather events begins to recede, the country heads into 2016 with major floods predicted on the Mississippi River that are approaching or even exceeding 2011 flood levels in some areas,” AIR added.

Economic losses from the 2011 floods were US$3 to $4 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

AP reported Monday that in Cape Girardeau, Mo., the Mississippi peaked Friday at 14.9 metres, 120 centimetes above the 1993 record, but below the 15-meter mark projected.

“The Meramec River, which joins the Mississippi River downstream from the city of St. Louis, is witnessing historic flood levels at several locations, including the Valley Park and Arnold gauge stations,” AIR reported.

The company noted that flood defences protect the City of St. Louis to a river stage of 54 feet, more than four feet above the crest set in 1993.

AP reported Monday that in Cape Girardeau, up to 30 homes and businesses were damaged.

AIR noted Friday that in the U.S., flood insurance to homeowners is “typically offered” only through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“The NFIP has been the subject of increasing scrutiny over the years, and it is hoped by some legislators that the current flooding disaster in the U.S. may motivate important changes to this program,” AIR stated.

In order to qualify for NFIP coverage, a property must be in a community that has joined the NFIP and agrees to enforce sound floodplain management standards.

In a report released in December, Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. noted that between 1986 and 2005, the NFIP was “primarily self-funded.”

However, at the end of 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency owed the US Treasury US$23 billion, reported the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent agency that reports to Congress.

PHOTO: Soldiers with 220 Engineering Company, Missouri National Guard help pump water out of flooded areas Dec. 31, 2015. Photo by Senior Airman Patrick D. Evenson, Missouri Air National Guard