Corps blows hole in Missouri levee

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

BIRDS POINT, MO. May 3- Just after 10 p.m. local time Monday night, the Army Corps of Engineers blew a two-mile hole in the Birds Point-New Madrid levee, flooding 130,000 acres of farmland and at least 90 homes in an attempt to protect the town of Cairo, IL and other parts of the levee system.

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The Ohio River at Cairo, near where it joins the Mississippi river, had climbed to more than 61 feet as of Monday, a day after beating the 1937 record of 59.5 feet. More rain was forecast for the region on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, who commands the Mississippi Valley Division of the Corps, described the flooding as “unprecedented and historic.”

“Making this decision is not easy or hard-it's simply grave-because the decision leads to loss of property and livelihood- either in a floodway or in an area designed not to flood,” Walsh said in a statement. He acknowledged that his decision may not end all of the flooding, but could prevent a “more catastrophic event.”

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo,., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Rep. Joann Emerson, R-Mo, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Army Monday, writing,”To be clear, most understand that ‘activation' of the floodway in effect, means ‘destruction' of the floodway.”

“Scores of homes, as well as 130,000 acres of productive property and public infrastructure, are within the path of destruction,” wrote the Members. “We urge the USACE to dedicate all available planning resources to respond decisively, definitively, and immediately to give back the personal property, livelihoods, and public infrastructure that will be lost.”

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