A division of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has used Recovery grants to help prevent chronic flood damage in parts of Tennessee and North Carolina.
In Tennessee, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded $14 million in Recovery funds to remediate flooding that had eroded farmlands and damaged bridges around the town of Ripley. In North Carolina, NRCS awarded almost $5.3 million to fund the final phase of a project to protect the village of Swan Quarter from flood waters so powerful that they once moved a church off its foundation.
Rainstorms dumping water into Cane Creek led to the loss of tons of soil and farmland and also weakened bridges in this southwestern area of the state near Memphis. The $14 million of Recovery funding was used to repair several degraded bridges, address massive erosion and flooding on prime farmland adjacent to the steam, and prevent flooding of nearby homes and businesses.
Recovery Act funding repaired this bridge, the only direct thoroughfare to the town of Ripley.
Local and state agencies worked with area conservation organizations and landowners to ensure that the project would be not only thorough but environmentally sound. The nearly four-year project was completed in October 2012. USDA reports that more than 1,000 acres of prime farmland have been protected and six bridges rehabilitated.
Swan Quarter, NC
This coastal village has a long history of flooding caused by heavy rains and storm surges. Indeed, in 1876, massive flooding lifted a newly built church from its foundation on a lot that had actually been the builders’ second choice for location; the waters carried the church through town and deposited it on the patch of land that had been the builders’ first choice because of its higher elevation.
Sheet piling from dike along road going into Swan Quarter.
Work on improving Swan Quarter’s flood protections – building more dykes and tide gates, for example – originally began in 1965, but insufficient funding caused the project to drag. In 2002, county and state officials partnered with NRCS to update and upgrade the original plans. However, funding issues persisted, forcing the project to be completed in phases. Recovery Act funding has allowed the 13th (and final) phase of the project to begin. Ultimately, total protections will include approximately 20 miles of dykes, three miles of waterway improvements, and 28 tide gates.
(Images courtesy of USDA)
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