US levees at risk

Workers construct a levy to protect a highway from flood waters in Minot, North Dakota



Hundreds of flood-control systems in 37 states are at risk of failing, putting people and properties at risk, new inspections show.

The US Army Corps of Engineers rated 1,451 structures, 326 of which were found in urgent need of repair, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

A further 1,004 have deficiencies and 121 are in acceptable condition.

According to The Associated Press, one common issue is that many levees don't have enough extra height to prevent overflow, including a 20-mile stretch along the Yazoo River in Mississippi that came close to being topped in 2011.

At some levees, drain pipes have rusted and pumping systems are giving out and in some places vegetation and invasive animals aren't being controlled as required.

There are also several areas where structures were built on top of levees - there is supposed to be a 15-foot buffer.

In Augusta, GA, a levee was incorporated into a park and a subdivision and access road were built on top of the levy. Portions of a hotel and museum were also built atop the levy. There are 1,500 homes along a levy in Toledo, Ohio.

Representatives from the corps told The Associated Press that some exceptions had been previously made that would no longer be allowed.

Some local officials defended their levees, stating that many held up during the 2011 floods. They said they'd like to make repairs but can't afford it.

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