SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — Downstate Illinois cities and towns along the Mississippi River are bracing for moderate to major flooding this season, but officials have learned lessons from the disaster in 2008.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports, Jim Steinman, chief of emergency management for the Army Corps of Engineers, says flooding a few years ago prompted the creation of Silver Jackets, an organization that brings emergency management agencies together for faster flood response.

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LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports

“They also look at the flood protection system level of protection – is it sufficient – and issues like that, so they try and wrestle with the whole big picture of flood protection and flood risk,” Steinman said.

Steinman says one of the goals is also to help residents make quick decisions during an emergency.

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Flooding predictions along the Mississippi River this year so far have not panned out as expected. Forecasters anticipated river levels to reach up to 4 feet beyond records set in 1993 and 2008, but so far, only moderate flooding has occurred.

To prevent future flooding, environmentalists and some who live in river towns suggest doing away with the levee system altogether. But Steinman is not sure that’s the right approach, KMOX-AM St. Louis reports.

“Let’s take them down and return to the natural state it was in. But many of the levees protect development,” he said.

The idea is that fewer levees along the upper Mississippi would reduce the stress on levees downstream. Despite the 1993 and 2008 floods, Steinman says no levees failed. They were simply overtopped, and then breached.

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Over the years, Missouri and Illinois have experienced major floods that have wiped out towns, inundated an airport and swept away farms.