This is the sound of the beginning of a disaster for Mississippi County, Missouri farmers…and the sound of relief for a deteriorating Illinois town at the junction of the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers.
AUDIO: levee blasted :10 mp3
About 10 o’clock last night, the Corps of Engineers started tearing a two-mile long hole in the Bird’s Point Levee, near Charleston, letting the Mississippi River tear into tens of thousands of acres of some of Missouri’s richest farmland. Rain continued to fall as the blasts went off, so much rain that another series of blasts that would open another hole in the levee farther south were called off. ..
The diversion of water is being done to relieve Cairo, Illinois, which has never seen flooding such as it is seeing now. Within two hours of the opening of Bird’s Point, the flood crest at Cairo was down more than half a foot and by this morning the flood level was more than a foot lower. The Corps of Engineers hopes it drops three to four feet because of the breaching of the levee.
About 100 farm homes and about 133,000 acres are going to be flooded. Southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson says she’s been assured by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that farmers will be covered for their losses with insurance.
Flooding remains a major concern in several other part of southeast Missouri where more than twenty inches of rain fell in April.
Lale Wappapello has overrun its spillway and is dumping more than 15,000 cubic feet of water every second into the St. Francis River. The Corps of Engineers thinks the flow could be closer to 24,000 cfs today, endangering some downstream communities.