Lawmakers weigh-in on pending decision on levee from Army Corps of Engineers | St. Louis Public Radio

Lawmakers weigh-in on pending decision on levee from Army Corps of Engineers

Apr 29, 2011

Updated 12:29 p.m. April 29:

Via the Associated Press:

Missouri officials are appealing a federal judge's ruling that says the Army Corps of Engineers can break a levee and flood Missouri farmland if necessary to spare an Illinois town upstream.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. ruled Friday that the corps' plan to breach the Birds Point levee is appropriate to ensure flood-control along the Mississippi. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis a short time later.

The corps has proposed using explosives to blow a 2-mile-wide hole through the levee in southeast Missouri's Mississippi County.

They agency says doing so could ease waters rising around the upstream town of Cairo, Ill., near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

Updated 5:08 p.m. April 28:

Via the Associated Press:

The Army Corps of Engineers says it is halting its preparations to blast a gaping hole in a Mississippi River levee while it monitors river levels.

That came as lawyers for the state of Missouri urged a judge Thursday to block the federal government from carrying out the plan, saying the move carries disastrous financial implications and environmental hazards.

The corps is considering the break as a way to ease waters rising around the upstream town of Cairo, Ill., nestled where the swollen Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet.

Illinois and the town of Cairo favor the move, arguing the well-being of the town's 2,800 residents outweighs farmland that would be swallowed up in the rush.

Corps spokesman Jim Pogue says the corps halted its demolition preparations for now.

Original Story by Adam Allington (Posted 6:33 p.m. April 27):

The flooding along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers has placed the Army Corps of Engineers in a difficult situation.

The Corps is weighing a decision to flood thousands of acres of farmland, or try to save homes.

The Army Corps says it’s going to wait until the weekend before deciding whether or not to intentionally blow up a levee and flood some 130,000 acres of Missouri Farmland.

A law enacted in 1928 allows the Army Corps to blow up the levee at Birds Point to reduce flood risk for the nearby town Cairo, Ill.

The plan has raised the ire of folks on the Missouri-side of the river.

Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, along with Rep. JoAnn Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, sent a letter to the President asking for alternative measures, while also acknowledging that decision is difficult.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has a very difficult choice here and while we certainly prefer and are asking them not to blow the levee…ultimately they have got to make a very difficult calculation,” McCaskill said.

Cairo Mayor Judson Childs says people's lives should be considered ahead of farmland.