Levees Crumbling, Midwest Struggles to Stem Tide

Aging infrastructure is barely coping with severe weather
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2008 8:45 AM CDT
In this June 10, 2008 file photo, a farm is surrounded by floodwater from the White River as it overran its banks and levees near Elnora, Ind.    (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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(Newser) – The worst flooding in 15 years has exposed some serious vulnerabilities in the Midwest's aging infrastructure, the Chicago Tribune reports. Levees, bridges, and dams, some a century old, are barely coping with severe storms—while some are collapsing completely. Dikes and levees broke in several states last week after torrential rains, destroying homes and flooding farmland.

Severe storms and flooding are now happening much more often than they did when much of the country's infrastructure was designed. There are fears that decades of underinvestment could soon mean catastrophe. "We as a nation have ignored our infrastructure for the past 50 years," a flood plain manager warned. "We haven't gone back to maintain the old roads and bridges. We just keep building new ones."