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Brigadier General Walsh Listens To Commissioners and County's Concerns

FLOOD WATCH 2008

The visit of a Brigadier General to Henderson County is a rare find, but the newly appointed Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Brigadier General Michael J. Walsh, flew into Burlington airport to get a first hand look at the situation his Corp of Engineers was faced with.

His first stop Monday, was at the Gulfport levee to meet commissioners and to see the pumping action and levee issues that exists there and at the breach south of Carthage Lake in Henderson County.

Led by Col. Robert A. Sinkler, Commander and District Engineer, and Michael J. Tarpey, Civil Engineer in charge of the Henderson County levee issues.

Tarpey said his team has been working everyday including Saturday and Sunday drafting three plans to put the levee system back in place.

The levee is a Federal levee and therefore repairs will be 100% funded by the Federal Government.

The fastest and most cost efficient way to get water back out of a flood zone is to wait until the River is down and it will siphon itself out, the engineers said.

As they walked and looked at the devastation at Gulfport and the pumping of water, his engineers and County Chair briefed the General of the situation and the concerns.

Then, in the short ride to Ellison Creek through back roads, a video filmed by IDOT of the breach near Carthage Lake was shown and there was more in depth conversation among commissioners, FEMA, newspaper reporters, Senator Durbin's Representative, and Col. Sinkler and Civil Engineer Mike Tarpey.

Tarpey said, he should be hearing of a contract for the levee repair in 6 to 10 days.

A man of few words, the General was listening well to facts about the situation

Brigadier General Michael Walsh assumed command of the Mississippi Valley Division (MVD), Vicksburg, Miss., February 20, 2008.  

He also serves as President designee of the Mississippi River Commission. 

General Walsh came to MVD from Baghdad, Iraq, where he was the Commander for the Corps' Gulf Region Division.    

As MVD Commander, Walsh is responsible for a $7.5 billion civil works program.  In addition, he plays a vital role in managing the Corps water resources program in the Mississippi River Valley. 

The boundaries of the Mississippi Valley Division extend from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, include portions of 12 states, and encompass 370,000 square miles. 

The programs and activities overseen by the MVD and MRC are conducted by six district offices located in St. Paul, Minn., Rock Island, Ill., St. Louis, MO., Memphis, Tenn., Vicksburg, 

Miss., and New Orleans, LA.  He also serves as Commander of Task Force Hope.  TF Hope is the designation given to the Corps' effort in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's national response plan to Hurricane Katrina. 

Engaging more than 3,800 personnel at its peak, TF Hope was among the largest disaster recovery operations in the history of the Corps of Engineers. 

Commissioner Mark Ford, left, and County Disaster Chair Marty Lafary (second from right) find a short moment of humor in a long couple of months of stress as they talk with Brigadiere General Walsh, (right) in charge of the entire Mississippi River as well as all rivers within the Mississippi River basin.