NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans office is asking to do something unprecedented: open a historic flood control structure above New Orleans for the second time in one year.

This comes as floods across the Midwest have caused billions of dollars of damage to homes, farms and other businesses.

The National Weather Service says continued rains in the Midwest and Ohio Valley and floodwaters from the upper Mississippi River are heading down the Mississippi. In addition, storms are expected to dump 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain in Louisiana and Arkansas.

Corps spokesman Matt Roe says the New Orleans office is asking the Corps' Mississippi Valley Division for authority to reopen the Bonnet Carré (BAHN-ee KEHR-ee) spillway to relieve stress on New Orleans levees. The agency has scheduled a Thursday afternoon news conference.