MEMPHIS, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A $13 billion flood-control system prevented much costlier damage along the Mississippi River since last year's flooding, officials say.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' flood-control system prevented an estimated $62 billion in potential damage as the river sought new channels and made initial shifts toward changing course during high waters during the spring, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reported.
From northwest Tennessee to Louisiana, the river tried to cut off parts of islands and make shortcuts through bends, washed out riverbanks, weakened levees and buckled concrete barriers the corps installed to hold banks, the newspaper said.
Corps officials estimate repairing damage caused by the river as it tried to create new channels during the flood will cost at least $222.5 million, and the river could complete changes of course it started in the next major flood if the repairs aren't done before then.
Officials estimate it will cost an additional $327.7 million to repair levees damaged from the flood, $157.4 million to complete necessary flood-related dredging and about $70.6 million to restore spillways and similar structures.
The U.S. House has approved $1 billion in emergency appropriations for the corps to pay for damage along the Mississippi but the Senate has not approved any funding.
The river has changed course repeatedly in the past 1,000 years, The Commercial Appeal reported, but if it did so today, it would reverse decades of corps river engineering, destroy property, leave ports dry and make it impossible for barges to navigate the waterway.