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Morning headlines: Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jacob McClelland, KRCU
Sinkholes in Cairo, Ill following the spring floods.

Army Corps to Begin Immediate Repairs to Mississippi River Levee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the Mississippi River levee during flooding earlier this spring.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Wednesday that Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, who ordered the breach in early May, said the levee in southeast Missouri will be rebuilt at three breach points. The corps breached the levee to relieve pressure on the floodwall at nearby Cairo, Ill., which spared the town from being flooded but inundated about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland.

The Southeast Missourian reports that Walsh says the levee would be rebuilt to 51 feet. That's shorter than the earlier 60.5 feet but enough to provide flood protection for farmers.

Floodwaters Reach New Levee in Hamburg

Missouri River floodwaters have reached the new levee that serves as the last line of defense for the southwest Iowa town of Hamburg.

Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Carlos Lazo said Thursday morning the water flowing out of a gaping hole in the main levee 5 miles south of Hamburg reached the new levee late Wednesday. Lazo says the new levee built over the past two weeks is holding, and there were no signs of problems Thursday morning.

The corps increased the height of the levee by 3 feet after Monday's breaches in northwest Missouri. The new levee protecting Hamburg is about 8-feet-tall.  The corps plans to release record amounts of water into the Missouri River through most of the summer to deal with heavy spring rain upstream and above-average snowmelt.

Conservation Officials: Black Bear Population Could be on the Rise

The black bear population in Missouri seems to be on the rise. Now, the state Department of Conservation is trying to determine exactly how many of the bears now call Missouri home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the department is engaged in a two-year effort to estimate the number of black bears living in Missouri. Since last fall, biologists have been in 11 counties in far southern Missouri in an effort to make the determination. Sightings are periodic but the population is believed to be rising, largely from bears migrating to Missouri from Arkansas, which imported black bears from Minnesota four decades ago.




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