Corps Of Engineers Answers Questions About Recent Flooding

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Tuesday (April 5) was a chance for those who were flooded out last year in the River Valley to meet with the agency that tries to prevent heavy flooding.

Dozens from the community showed up to a meeting at the Fort Smith Police Department to address the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Many people said they just wanted to know how the flooding got so bad.

“At some point if it continues to rain the lakes have no more storage,” Mike Biggs with the Corps of Engineers said. “Now, the dams on the Arkansas River have no flood storage.”

Biggs explained that the lakes and dams in Oklahoma are meant to help relieve flooding from the River Valley.

“They made the smallest releases they possibly could to prevent overtopping into the dams, but they didn't stop all of it,” Biggs said. “Dams are designed to protect against infrequent flooding, but doesn't remove all chances of flooding.”

Biggs said the flooding in May and December was caused by a historic amount of rain that the current dams were not built to handle.

“Now, we could've built bigger dams, but if you build a big, huge dam, and you only need it once every 50 years, is it worth doing all the work to keep it,” Biggs asked.

The people who still haven't been able to return to their homes say it is worth it, but Biggs said it will take an act of congress to build dams that can withstand that kind of flooding.

''We don't have the money to do it,” Biggs said. “We have to wait on congress to appropriate and authorize the study and construction and design of those dams.”

Representatives from Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman and Congressman Steve Womack  were at the meeting and said they are taking this information back to Washington D.C. to make plans for future improvements.