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Twenty-six years ago, May 18, 1980, I remember Mount St. Helens erupted in one of the greatest natural disasters of modern times. The top of the mountain was blown into the atmosphere and became a dark plume of pulverized rock 11 miles high. At the same time, avalanches of rock, mud, and ice swept down the mountain—destroying everything in their path, clogging rivers, and stopping ships.

During the past quarter of a century, the US government has spent over $1 billion on Mount St. Helens ’ recovery and long term improvements of the area. Much of the engineering and construction work done by the US Army Corps of Engineers is unseen because “it takes the form of floods that will not happen, homes and communities that will not be destroyed, (and) river traffic that will flow smoothly.”