MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If Memphis were hit with another major flood, could the city survive? Mayor A C Wharton is concerned. He traveled to Washington D.C. Tuesday, October 18, 2011, to speak with a senate committee about the Bluff City's aging flood control system.
The Gayoso Pumping Station is nearly 100-years old and has major maintenance issues. The flood in the summer of 2011 damaged the entire flood control system that runs along the Mississippi River causing more than $2 billion dollars in damage.
"I think this historic flood of 2011 was a good test. It allowed us to see where the weaknesses are," said Steve Barry from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis.
Turns out, there are plenty of weaknesses.
"In President's Island the river was trying to cut a new path down there and that's going to be a $26 million dollar repair," Barry told abc24.com.
Thousands of homes, farms, and roads were destroyed.
"The system performed as designed," said Barry.
“I'm always amazed at what people can do and what systems they can build,” said Bob Nations, Shelby County Emergency Management Agency Director.
But for how long can these systems last? The Gayoso Pumping Station was built when President Woodrow Wilson was in office, in 1916.
"As anything that's mechanical and electrical in nature it's going to need continual maintenance and will wear out over time,” said Barry.
The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out what needs to be fixed now to prepare for the next flood.
“We are currently prioritizing all the damage up and down the system that the core is at the national level and then as funding allows these repairs will be made," Barry told abc24.com.
"By and large everything held,” said Nations. “You're only as good as the next time you have to respond."
Many parts of the flood control system were never tested or put in service before this year's floods. There are seven pumping stations spread across Memphis and many are 50-years-old or older.