One foot – that’s what could make the difference between whether the levee at Birds Point might be blown again to deal with historic flooding.
In May, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew up a levee at Birds Point to ease flooding at Cairo, Illinois and elsewhere in the region. In the process some 130,000 acres of farmland and about 90 homes were flooded.
Corps spokesman Jim Pogue says if the flood at Cairo reaches 58 feet with a prediction of hitting 60, the Corps is authorized to blow the levee again.
“It’s forecast to go to 59 but hold at 59, so we feel like based on the forecast and conditions that there’s a very low probability that we would have to operate the floodway this year,” Pogue told Missourinet.
“With that said, we have to stay ready to do it if need be,” Pogue added. He said blowing that levee isn’t just about protecting Cairo, Illinois.
“It’s a completely regional kind of event. A lot of people think that it’s intended to protect the city of Cairo and it’s much more, much bigger than that,” said Pogue. “The levees all up and down the river there are going to be having a lot of pressure on them and so that’s the impetus for operating the floodway is to protect the whole regional levee system in that area.”
Governor Jay Nixon (D) said during a public appearance at Pacific Wednesday, “For those that are asking questions about whether or not Birds Point down there at the Bootheel is going to be imploded, we think not.”