The dredge Hurley is a massive vessel. It single handedly keeps commerce flowing down the Mississippi river in times of low water. Right now the water level is 7 and a half feet below zero.
"This vessel was put in service in 1993 and she's never seen these kind of conditions," says Frank Segree.
Segree is the Captain of the dredge Hurley. Right now they are in Osceola, Arkansas, where parts of the river are only 10 feet deep. The average is about 15 feet. The shallow water isn't good for the barges passing through.
"The dredge works like a giant vacuum, picking up sand from one part of the river and moving closer to the shore," says Segree. "We have a dust pan here behind me. It's 35 feet wide. And we set up, we call it drawing a line or drawing a box, we'll cut a 35 foot path. Then well come back move 35 feet and start it again. Take it out a section at a time."
It will take three days to dredge out this section of the river. While the dredge Hurley is here, it's one way traffic for the barges. But the captain says they don't mind.
When asked what would happen if the Army Corp didn't do this type of thing, Segree replies, "The river would shut down. Which would have an impact on the nation's economy. The Mississippi River is a vital source to our economy."
Working on the river means two weeks on the dredge Hurley 24 hours a day. And then one week off.
But Captain Segree says he loves what he does. Taking care of the river has become his life.
"This is home. We work together all the time, we work together year round. We have everything you have at home. Except our wives."