The project was given the green light, with construction beginning on the dike in 1974 under Congress’s Flood Control Act of 1965, and completed in 1981. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for the construction of the Clinton levee system, with the city serving as a cost-share partner, financing roughly 25 percent of the total $26.4 million price tag.
Why is this important now?
One need only look to cities that don’t have a levee like Clinton’s. Panic ensues whenever the waters start to rise, with business owners and residents in the path of the water working day and night to protect their properties from the water. There is loss in terms of business traffic as well as property damage, which of course fluctuates based on each flood event’s water depth.
One also could look at the destruction — or lack of such — that was noted after flooding events following the dike’s construction: Clinton suffered minimal damage during the great floods of 1993 and 2001, and a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island, Ill., said in 2008 that since its completion, Clinton’s levee system has saved the city nearly $46 million in prevented damages.
Sure, some cities won’t build a dike because of the fear of an obstructed view of the river. And why build it if there is a chance the river won’t flood from one year to the next, they may argue.
Our question: Why take that chance?
Luckily — because of the foresight of Clinton city leaders who saw the great need for a flood control project in the aftermath of the 1965 flood — we don’t have to.