June 19th, 2008
08:31 PM ET

Levee Breaches: Explained

David M. Reisner
360° Digital Producer

The Mississippi River claimed new tracts of farmland overnight north of St. Louis, Missouri, as officials warned that the swollen river could breach four or five more levees today around the Gateway City. About 11 levees have been breached in the St. Louis area since the flooding began.

When you hear the term 'levee breach,' what does that mean exactly? A levee breach can come from any number of scenarios. I put together a slideshow to show you all the different ways a levee can fail. Take a look:

Levee Breach slideshow

Filed under: 360° Radar • AC360° Staff • David M. Reisner • Severe Weather
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Hey this is why I love 360. Yall explain absolutely everything. Journalism at its finest. Great Slide Show.

    June 20, 2008 at 8:00 am |
  2. Jo Ann


    Thank you for the excellent “Levee Breaches” slideshow, it is well done and very informative. I was surprised by the many ways levees could be damaged and fail. It makes me wonder what the procedures are for inspecting and maintaining these structures. You would think that regularly scheduled maintenance would be mandatory and problems would be addressed before they could fail.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    June 20, 2008 at 3:58 am |
  3. anna boudousque

    I thought that the slide show was on the money. I was 2 blocks from the breech in new orleans and I can say first hand that Mother Nature takes no prisioners. She means business. My neighborhood is still not back,,,,, and the sad thing is all the crops that will affect the whole country. It will be a domino effect like we have never seen.. and it is not over.... I just wonder how many more levees it will take out.. The politicians should look more to the what this country is all about and not what they are all about... in other words""Take care of the hard working people that make this country roll"".... This is a life-changing event..... and people have no idea what is coming next. I am so concerned... and pray for relief for all these people along the Mighty Mississippi.........

    June 20, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  4. JJ

    So are these levees failing because the floods are too great (overtopping) or are they failing due to structural problems (due to design or construction error, or lack of maintenance)?

    June 20, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  5. Khalifah M. Mohamed

    Use Tarps instead of sandbags. Bulldozers to fill them, tie them off.
    Dump trucks and tow trucks to put them in place. Will be faster, cover larger area. Peace Be upon you, Your sister in Islam, Khalifah

    June 20, 2008 at 12:15 am |
  6. Ghostwheel

    Levees will continue to break down under the continual pressure of the rivers they are built to contain. We can build these structures as close to perfectly as we are able, and the end result will be the same: eventually they will fail. Entropy cannot be stopped by engineering.

    The floods along these great heartland rivers are tragic, yes, but they were also predictable. They have flooded their banks throughout their existence, long predating human presence.

    We should hope that these floods lead to a longer-term approach towards managing these dangers. We should examine what is best for everybody concerned over a period of decades (or longer), not what is best for one short stretch of river, one town, or one political term.

    June 19, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  7. Shannon

    I watch and listen all about the flood in the states and wonder why more states don't look to Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Winnipeg had a flood in the fifties and destroyed our city. When the city recovered our Premiere said that he would never let a flood like that happen again. He proceeded to build "Duff's Ditch", it is our floodway. When our Red River starts to rise the floodway is opened and diverted around the city and rejoins the river on the other side of the city. In 1997 we had the flood of the century our floodway held and the city was saved. Yes, there were times it was touch and go if it was going to hold, but it did. Now our province is expanding the floodway so that if another flood comes we will be prepared and safe.

    June 19, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  8. l m lee

    levees breech when no money is spent to upkeep them and/or maintain them

    June 19, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  9. Annie Kate


    That's a great slide show and very informative. Thank you for doing it and showing us the many ways a levee can fail.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 19, 2008 at 9:48 pm |