Birds Point Levee

A coalition of ninety environmental groups and over twenty community leaders in Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky are urging President Obama to block the Army Corps of Engineers from completing a $165 million  levee project in Missouri’s bootheel.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – After months of delay, the Army Corps of Engineers has posted its latest draft environmental impact statement on the controversial plan to close a floodway gap in the Mississippi River’s levee system in the Missouri Bootheel.

The draft EIS for the long-delayed St. John's Bayou-New Madrid Floodway project was criticized Friday by environmental groups that called on the administration of President Barack Obama to block the $165 million project.

Twan Robinson's house during the flooding
Provided by Debra Tarver

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - For the residents of Pinhook, Mo., the aerial pictures of their flooded village are as unreal today as they were in May 2011 after the Mississippi River gushed through the breached levee into the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway:

The remains of the gazebo that memorializes Jim Robinson Jr.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The countryside seems to get emptier every time Debra Tarver visits Pinhook, the tiny village in Missouri’s Mississippi County that was her family’s home until the Army Corps of Engineers blew a big hole in the levee on May 2, 2011, allowing the rampaging Mississippi River to storm the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

(via Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory)

The first phase of restoration work has been completed on a Mississippi River levee that was intentionally breached in 2011 during record flooding.

Glen Bullington, a civil engineer technician with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told The Southeast Missourian Friday that the first phase of work on Birds Point levee included restoring the levee to 55 feet of protection.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

New Illinois laws aim to protect elderly

New laws signed by Gov. Pat Quinn this weekend are aimed at protecting the elderly in Illinois by increasing oversight of caregivers and making it easier for authorities to respond to cases of abuse or neglect.

One of the new pieces of legislation allows prosecutors to ask a court to freeze a suspect's assets if he is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. That's meant to keep a defendant from spending stolen money before restitution is collected.

Jacob McCleland of KRCU reported for this story.

The Army Corps of Engineers will restore the Birds Point-New Madrid levee to its original height by the end of the year. The Mississippi River Commission made the decision last week, according to Army Corps spokesperson Jim Pogue.

“Our level of confidence in our ability to finish this work this year is real high," Pogue said. "We’ve had good weather, good river stages and assuming that the contractor continues to make good progress and our other work in the confluence area goes well, we’ll be right on track.”

(via Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory)

Reporting from KRCU’s Jacob McCleland.

Construction at the Birds Point-New Madrid Levee has come to a halt - a contractor protested the Army Corps of Engineers' bid process.

A&M Engineering and Environmental Services, from Tulsa, Oklahoma challenged the Corps’ decision to award the $2.4 million contract to rebuild the upper crevasse to Young’s General Contracting, from Poplar Bluff.
Corps spokesperson Jim Pogue says the Corps must now go through a thorough review process.

Record attendance for St. Louis Zoo

The first four and a half months of the year have been a record one for the St. Louis Zoo, no doubt helped by an unseasonably warm winter and spring.

Officials said Monday that more than one million people had entered the Zoo’s gates in through May 13. The Zoo expects those numbers to go higher once Sea Lion Sound opens on June 30.

A year after record floods, drought conditions in southeast Missouri

What a difference a year makes in southeastern Missouri.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Citizen's committee wants to know what public wants in transportation

A series of statewide meetings designed to take the pulse of transit needs in Missouri kicks off in Chesterfield later today.

House Speaker Steven Tilley put together the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri Transportation Needs in early March. Tilley said in a statement that he wants to "start a conversation" to ensure that Missouri’s transit system fosters economic growth. Members include transportation, political, business and union leaders.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Cardinals will retire La Russa's jersey

No other player or manager will wear #10 for the St. Louis Cardinals after this season.

The team has announced plans to retire the number, worn last by manager Tony La Russa, at a ceremony before a May 11 contest against the Atlanta Braves.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Study: Corps made the right choice in breaching Birds Point

A new study says the Army Corps of Engineers made the right choice when it blew up a southeast Missouri levee last year.

Study co-author Ken Olson, a professor of soil sciences at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urban,a says river levels continued to rise even after the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway was breached by explosives to relieve flooding pressure on Cairo, Ill.

(via Flickr/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Army Corps. seeks dismissal of lawsuit filed on behalf of southeast Mo. farmers

More than 140 southeast Missouri farmers are seeking damage caused by last year's intentional breach of the Birds Point levee at the height of spring flooding.

The Southeast Missourian reports that government attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Oral arguments in the suit are scheduled to begin April 10 in Washington.

Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs

Corps plans to hire private companies to restore Birds Point

The corps set off explosions at three spots on the levee last May to relieve pressure on the floodwall in Cairo, Ill.  

The Southeast Missourian reports the corps will be looking in the next two weeks for three firms to bid on the projects.

The corps halted its floodway repairs in December after spending $20 million to shore up the levee to 55 feet of flood protection at each of the blasting spots.

Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs

Army Corps inspecting Birds Point Levee daily

Inspectors with the Army Corps of Engineers are performing daily inspections of the area where the Birds Point levee was intentionally breached in May. Maj. Jon Korneliussen told the Sikeston Standard Democrat that daily patrols are checking the middle and upper crevasses created by the implosion that happened at the height of spring flooding.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Missouri has received another $47 million in federal grants to help cover the costs of natural disasters that pounded the state over the summer.

The grants, announced today by Republican senator Roy Blunt, include:

UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock

Joplin tornado top story in 2011

The May 22 tornado that killed 161 people and left much of Joplin in ruins was a unanimous choice for The Associated Press' top story in 2011 by editors across the state. That was followed by the intentional breach at Birds Point, which sent water rushing over southeast Missouri farmland in a bid to save the upstream Illinois town of Cairo. 

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Cardinals submit new offer to Pujols

(via Flickr/soundfromwayout)

Two day sentencing hearing for Blagojevich begins today

Former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich's sentencing hearing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Much of today's hearing will be a repeat of what attorneys have already argued in written motions filed with the court.

The one unknown variable is the governor himself. He'll get a chance to address the court.

Former federal prosecutor Dave Weisman says Blagojevich should read a prepared statement and keep it short.

(via Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory)

The Army Corps of Engineers says it's likely there will be more flooding along a Mississippi River floodway in southeast Missouri that was inundated earlier this year.

The corps says that based on forecasts of unseasonably high river levels there is a "significant risk" of more flooding along the Birds Point Floodway in the near future.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Milus and Wanda Wallace can't move heaven, but they are moving tons of earth to live once again on their "slice of heaven" in the southern section of the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

The Wallaces' Mississippi County farm was among the 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland inundated by floodwater in May after the Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the levee in three places to alleviate flooding in Cairo, Ill., and other towns along the Mississippi River.

Flickr/Mat Culpepper

Ill. law regarding original birth certificates takes effect today

An Illinois law taking effect today will allow more adoptees to get copies of their original birth certificates and possibly learn the names of their biological parents.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Cardinals lose Game 2 of World Series

The Texas Rangers rallied against the Cardinals’ bullpen last night to win Game 2 of the World Series 2-1 at Busch Stadium.  

Both starters Jaime Garcia and the Rangers’ Colby Lewis matched zeroes for the first six frames before Allen Craig’s pinch-single broke the ice. Cards closer Jason Motte was called on to protect the Cards’ 1-0 lead. He’s been hot, with five postseason saves, but was tagged with the loss in this one.

(via Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory)

The Army Corps of Engineers now plans to rebuild the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri to 55 feet, four feet higher than originally scheduled.

Even with the extra four feet, however, the levee is actually being rebuilt shorter than it was before it was intentionally breached to relieve flooding pressure on the Mississippi River.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from KRCU's Jacob McCleland was used in this report.

Army Corps of Engineers officials and Mississippi County farmers met with Senator Roy Blunt Thursday to discuss the restoration of the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway.

The Corps is currently building a temporary levee to 51 feet - more than eleven feet lower than the original levee that was detonated in May to relieve massive flooding on the Mississippi River.

MoGov

Two dead in St. Charles house fire (updated 11:51 a.m.)

A man and his 2-year-old daughter are dead, and three other family members are badly hurt, after a house fire in St. Charles.

The fire swept through the home just before 3 a.m. Tuesday. Authorities identified the victims as 27-year-old Cameron Gresham and his daughter, Maren Gresham.

(via Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory)

The federal Environmental Protection Association says it found no evidence of serious contamination in Mississippi River water released by the May 2 breech of the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri.

The Army Corps of Engineers blew up the levee to relieve the flooding risk to Cairo, Ill.  In doing so, it covered 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland with several feet of water.

flickr/wfyurasko

MoDOT to Lengthen Time at Yellow Lights

Drivers who hurry through yellow lights will soon have a little more time to do so at roughly 2,000 traffic signals on Missouri-controlled roads and highways.

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Jay Woods)

Army Corps: More Rain Could Force Release of More Water from Dam

The top Army officer for the management of the Missouri River says additional rain could force the release of even greater amounts of water from an upstream dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already is releasing a record 150,000 cubic feet of water per second from Gavin's Point dam in South Dakota.

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers video screen grab)

For the first time in more than five weeks, the Mississippi River has dropped low enough to stop flowing through a gap in a blown-up levee in southeast Missouri.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells The Associated Press that the river stopped flooding through the Birds Point levee Thursday.

It had been flowing through the gap since the corps blew a hole in the levee on May 2 to relieve flooding pressure on nearby Cairo, Ill.

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