Category Archives: Feature

Norfork Lake Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Norfork Lake is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The lake is one of the most desired fishing destinations in Arkansas. Its remoteness allows you to really lose yourself in the natural beauty and splendor it provides.

Beautiful sunset over Norfork Lake.

Norfork Lake is rich with history dating back to WW II. The dam was originally created to be one of six dams built to accomplish flood control in the White River Basin. However, it ended up being used for so much more.

House of Representatives member Clyde T. Ellis and others, knew that the lakes and rivers of Arkansas could be powerful sources for creating electric power for the war effort. For years prior to the war, Ellis had been pushing hydroelectric power. He knew that Arkansas retained the necessary resources to provide electricity to the defense industries, and in 1941 his efforts paid off. The Flood Control bill passed the House, granting full authorization for power facilities at Norfork Dam.

It was completed in June 1943, and power generation starting in June of 1944. Congress also approved construction of three additional Arkansas dam and reservoir projects in 1938 for flood control. These included Nimrod, Blue Mountain, and Clearwater.

President Truman at the Norfork and Bull Shoals Dedications circa July 2, 1952.

Norfork and Nimrod were the only two dams that included power generating equipment. Although Nimrod was fitted with penstocks for power turbines, it was completed in 1942 without the remainder of the equipment needed to allow for hydroelectric power generation. The other two dams, Blue Mountain and Clearwater were tabled until after the war, but Norfork Dam received military priority status and became the Little Rock District Corp of Engineers’ first war project because of its categorization as a power source for future defense projects. As a result, Arkansas ended up becoming became a vital resource in war effort contributions.

Today, Norfork Dam and Lake provide a multitude of benefits to the state of Arkansas. In 2017, Norfork created revenue amounting to approximately 6.5 million to U.S. Treasury. “The lake is an integral part of the White River System which was designed for flood risk management to help protect homes, businesses and properties across a large part of Arkansas from the flooding” said Chief of Operations for the Little Rock District, Kevin McDaniels. And in 2017, the dam prevented 4.5 million dollars in damages based on the dam’s flood control prevention mechanisms.

However, flood management is not the only benefit Norfolk offers Arkansans. McDaniels goes on to discuss how the dam and lake also provide, “Hydroelectric power to thousands of homes, abundant recreational opportunities, outstanding hunting and fishing and high quality habitat for fish and wildlife.”

Fishing is still king here. Almost all varieties of fresh water fish are found in the lake, and it also contains one of the best striped bass fisheries in Arkansas. Numerous state record setting catches have come out of Norfork Lake here such as a rock bass, weighing in at 1 pound 8 ounces.


Little Rock District Supports Hurricane Michael Recovery

Did you know the Little Rock District has a group of employees deployed in support of Hurricane Michael recovery efforts?

The district has a primary and secondary Temporary Roofing Planning and Response Team.  These teams are commonly referred to as Blue Roof PRTs.  In all, about 53 employees from the district deployed with the PRT.

Olivia Crisp, a Little Rock District security assistant talks with  a resident of Panama City Fla, at a blue roof right of entry collection point. Residents have to sign a right of entry to their property before blue roof work can begin.

“Operation Blue Roof is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of Operation Blue Roof is to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs.  This is a free service to homeowners,” according to Emergency Management Specialist, Jim Marple.

“Operation Blue Roof protects property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm.  This program is for primary residences or a permanently occupied rental properties with less than 50 percent structural damage. Vacation rental properties are not eligible for the program.”

Once the blue roof is installed, the structure must be habitable.

Not all roof types qualify for the program. Roofs that are flat or made of metal or clay, slate or asbestos tile do not qualify. All storm debris must be removed for the roof to qualify.

The Corps’ blue roofs are temporary repairs, intended to last 30 days and provide the homeowner an opportunity to find a permanent fix. Blue roofs require a professional roofing team to install.

Roofing contractors apply blue roof material to a damaged structure. (Courtesy Photo)

When the team deploys there are numerous jobs the members can perform.  There are Action Officers, Mission Managers, Resident Engineers, Quality Assurance Supervisors, QA Team Leaders and Inspectors.

The term “Blue Roof” comes from the blue fiber-reinforced sheeting used to cover the damaged roofs.  FEMA normally arranges for the procurement and shipment of the plastic sheeting and in some cases furring strips and nails, to pre-designated staging areas.  The Corps accepts the material at the staging areas and manages the disbursement of the materials to the groups and organizations involved in the mission.

This Blue Roof mission for Hurricane Michael recovery will be a massive undertaking.  However, it will probably not be the largest operation on record.  The 2005 hurricane season became the largest Operation Blue Roof program ever with 193,000 roofs installed as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.  The previous record was set in 2004 when 134,000 blue roofs were installed after Florida hurricanes Charlie, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan.  After Katrina and Rita, the State of Louisiana became the largest single recipient of the season with 82,000 blue roofs.

Along with the Little Rock District, there are three other districts that have Temporary Roofing PRTs.  The districts are Nashville, St. Louis and Omaha.

The Little Rock Team last deployed in 2008 to Hurricane Ike in Houston, TX.  If you are interested in becoming a Blue Roof team member stop by the Emergency Management office to receive more information.