Southeast Missouri has been fighting natural flooding for days. Soon, it might have to cope with man-made flooding.
A federal judge has given the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to blow a two-mile-wide hole in the Birds-Point New Madrid Levee to relieve pressure on the swollen Mississippi River and avert flooding of Cairo, Illinois. The state has appealed the ruling.
Floodwaters already cover hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland in southeastern Missouri after 15-to-20 inches of rain saturated the region.
“It’s a very dangerous time,” University of Missouri Business Specialist David Reinbott is in Scott County, immediately to the north of Mississippi County. Reinbott says residents are anxious. “Everybody’s on edge. It’s something; we’re not sure what’s going to happen here.”
For now, residents prepare for the worst. The Mississippi County Sheriff has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Birds-Point spillway. Residents and livestock are being moved out of about 100 homes and dozens of farms. A break in the levee could swamp as much as 133,000 acres of land in the county.
The Corps hasn’t made a decision on whether to follow through with its plan. It has stated that it will breach the levee if the river reaches 61 feet at Cairo. It is near that level now. Explosives have been moved in place.
In addition, a flood warning has been issued for parts of Barry County, Stone County, and Taney County in Southwestern Missouri. These are all areas affected by the continued release of water from Beaver Lake and Table Rock Dam by the Corps of Engineers. The resulting rise in water levels along Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo will most likely lead to flooding along roadways and some residences in the area, and possibly at Branson Landing. The Corps expects the high water release to continue through the weekend. While flash flooding is not expected, all those with property and other interests should take precautions.