Updated 1:23 p.m. May 3 with information about lawsuit:
Via the Associated Press:
A group of 25 southeast Missouri farmers is suing the federal government over its decision to blow a hole in a levee, causing their farmland and houses to flood.
Cape Girardeau attorney J. Michael Ponder filed the lawsuit Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated explosives on the Birds Point levee to ease pressure from the swelling Mississippi River.
Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri National Guard survey a levy breach in Butler County, Missouri on April 26, 2011. The levee along the Black River has breached in several places, forcing authorities to evacuate residents.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to blast open a levee to relieve the rain-swollen Mississippi River.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito did not comment Sunday night in denying Missouri's request to block the corps' plan. Alito handles emergency requests from Missouri and other states in the 8th Circuit in the Midwest.
Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh says a decision has not yet been made on whether to breech the levee.
Mo. State Highway Patrol's Roger Shikles keeps watch while passing a mailbox in Butler County, Mo. on April 26, 2011. A levee had breached in the area. A decision to intentionally break a levee in another flood-threatened area, Cairo, Ill. is pending.
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.
Mo. National Guardsman Terry Watson surveys an area of the Black River that has been sandbagged in Butler County, Mo. on April 26, 2011. A ruling about breaking a levee in another flooded area, Birds Point in Mississippi County, Mo., has been decided.
Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:
Fed. judge gives corps OK to break Missouri levee
A federal judge is giving the go-ahead to the Army Corps of Engineers' plan to intentionally break a Mississippi River levee in southeastern Missouri.
The break could happen as early as this weekend to spare a flood-threatened Illinois town just upriver. Friday's ruling in Cape Girardeau turns back Missouri's bid to block the corps from blasting a hole in the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, just south of Cairo, Ill.
mbers of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri National Guard survey a levy breach in Butler County, Missouri on April 26, 2011. The levee along the Black River has breached in several places, forcing authorities to evacuate residents.
Young boys attempt to push a car from flood waters in downtown Poplar Bluff, Missouri on April 26, 2011. A levee on the Black River protecting the area from major flooding has breached in several places, forcing authorities to evacuate residents.
The southern Missouri town of Poplar Bluff endured another night of torrential rain, this time dropping another two inches of water onto already saturated ground.
The Black River levee that protects the town's low-lying neighborhoods survived Tuesday night. The earthen wall was breached yesterday south of town, which flooded farmland, but released pressure within city limits.
Water has surrounded the Mt. Calvary Powerhouse Church in Poplar Bluff, Mo. on April 26, 2011. A levee protecting the town from major flooding breached today and authorities are planning to evacuate about seven thousand residents.
The Black River is receding at Poplar Bluff, Mo., and some 1,000 evacuees are now allowed to go home.
Officials in the southeast Missouri community of 17,000 residents on Thursday lifted a mandatory evacuation order for a large section of town, where river water has been pouring over the top of the levee.
Residents in the impacted area can return home whenever they choose.
Many will find a mess left behind by the murky water. Officials don't yet know how many homes were damaged in Poplar Bluff and in a rural area of Butler County also protected by the levee.
The National Weather Service said Thursday that after a crest of 21.4 feet on Tuesday, the Black River at Poplar Bluff was down to 19.1 feet.
Updated 11:14 a.m. April 27:
Via the Associated Press:
The Army Corps of Engineers says it will wait until this weekend to decide whether to intentionally break a southeastern Missouri levee along the Mississippi River.
The Corps has said it may have to blow holes in the Birds Point levee to ease rising waters near the Illinois town of Cairo which sits near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Missouri has sued (see 12:58 update) to block the effort because it would swamp farmland. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
But Corps spokesman Bob Anderson tells The Associated Press that even if a judge gives the go-ahead, the agency will wait until it gets a better forecast of the river crests to see if the breach is necessary. That decision isn't likely to come until at least this weekend.
Updated 5:06 p.m. April 26:
Via the Associated Press:
Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is defending the idea of intentionally breaching a Missouri levee to reduce flooding in Cairo.
Missouri officials object to the plan, saying it would endanger 130,000 acres of prime farmland.
But Simon told The Associated Press on Tuesday that farmers will be compensated for their losses and will be able to use the land next year. On the other hand, flooding could devastate the poor town of Cairo.
She noted an Illinois levee was intentionally breached during 1993 flooding.
Simon also says the Army Corps of Engineers would not break the Birds Point levee until water had already topped the levee.
The Corps of Engineers says it will put off a decision until at least Wednesday.
Updated 4:20 p.m. April 26:
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says she has concerns about the intentional breaching of the levee at Birds Point (via a press release):
“While emergency responders and volunteers work to save lives and protect property as best they can, the Army Corps of Engineers are working to find a solution to alleviate the stress from our levees. I have grave concerns about the plan to intentionally breach Bird’s Point Levee that is being considered. In the effort to prevent more damage, we may do additional significant harm to the agricultural economy of the region that will last well after the flood waters recede.”
The release says McCaskill has already communicated her concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers' leadership.
A Missouri National Guard member stages vehicles at the Cape Girardeau armory in preparation for possible use in state emergency duty. More than 200 Missouri Guard members were activated in anticipation of possible flooding in the southern portion of Mo.
Credit (via Flickr/The National Guard/M. Queiser/Missouri National Guard)