When the levee breaks...

by Liza on May. 02nd, 2011

Sometime tonight the US Army Corps of Engineers will blow up a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

All that rain that fell in April has both rivers swollen WAY past flood stage. (Water levels outside Cairo, Illinois, were at 61.4' this afternoon; "flood stage" begins at 40'.)

Major General Michael Walsh, head of the Mississippi River Commission,

"...ordered the intentional breach to alleviate pressure in the river system and to protect Cairo, even though it may lead to the flooding of 130,000 acres of mostly farmland in Missouri."

More later.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

The COE has begun the first of three stages of explosions meant to intentionally breach the levee, ultimately flooding some 130,000 miles of farmland but (hopefully) sparing Cairo, Illinois, and other towns.

posted on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 10:30pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I can't recommend enough John Barry's "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America."

It's the story of the only other instance when the levee was intentionally breached, and the process leading up to that decision as well as the aftermath are completely fascinating.

posted on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 11:03am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The COE is going ahead with the third and final blast in the Birds Point-New Madrid levee, hoping to alleviate the worst of the flooding downstream.

Since the levee was first breached, the water level at Cairo, Illinois, has dropped by almost two feet (instead of rising by three feet, which was predicted if the levee remained intact). But downstream communities are still at risk, many under mandatory evacuation orders. And opening the spillway has flooded hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland from Minnesota to Louisiana. The flooding isn't expected to abate until June.

Check the photos on CNN (link above).

posted on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 4:19pm

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