Judge rules in favor of intentional levee breach
Fri, 29 Apr 2011 15:49:02 GMT — Update: Thursday, May 5 at 9:10 a.m.: The Army Corps of Engineers now plans its final blast of the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri for 1 p.m. Thursday.
The Corps intentionally breached the levee along the Mississippi River Monday night to relieve pressure on the floodwall at Cairo and elsewhere nearby on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.Two subsequent explosions are necessary on the southern part of the levee to allow the water to flow back out. The blast on Thursday is the last of the three.
Update: Tuesday, May 3 at 3:55 p.m.:
A 2nd explosion took out another chunk of the Birds Point Levee in southeastern Missouri.
At happened at about 12:38 p.m. It took out 5,500 feet of the levee, allowing more floodwater to flow back into the Mississippi River.
The blast was supposed to happen overnight, but the Corps said unsafe weather conditions forced the delay.
Later Tuesday evening, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to give an update on how the plan is going so far and what happens next. Part of the news conference could include details about a third planned explosion.
Breaking the levee is meant to save the town of Cairo, Illinois and its 2,800 employees. However, it comes at the cost of 130,000 acres of rich Missouri farmland and 100 homes.
Some of those farmers are now trying to fight back.
A group of 25 farmers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the federal government for its decision to break the levee. The lawsuit claims the government violated the farmers TM rights by taking their land without adequate compensation.
The Corps said the flowage easements attached to the farmers TM property deeds allowed them to breach the levee.Update: Tuesday, May 2 at 9:05 a.m.: Monday night's Birds Point levee blast was felt at the Wardell, Missouri helicorder. Helicorders are similar to seismographs.Residents from around that area from Campbell, Blodgett, Miner, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri and in Karnak and Wolf Lake, Illinois are just a few of the hundreds who reported feeling shaking from the blast.Hickman, Kentucky police confirm some damage may be related to the blast at Birds Point levee. A home there had some ground give way after the blast and the people are evacuating the home. Police say there have been three other earlier reports of the ground giving way near homes because of all the water. This one, near a church, is the only one thought to be related to the blast. The Army Corps of Engineers was now en route to check the damage.The second blast scheduled between 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday has been delayed due to unsafe weather conditions, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. This would be a smaller, outflow breach. The final execution of the project will be in the upper portion between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday.Maj. General Michael Walsh, President of the Mississippi River Commission, announced he decided to operate the floodway project at Birds Point - New Madrid Floodway at 5 p.m. Maj. General Walsh called it a "heart-wrenching" situation.Breaking the levee means flooding about 133,000 acres of farmland and 100 homes in Mississippi and New Madrid counties.Maj. General Walsh called this flooding unprecedented and historic.This breach will create a lake in the floodway in the next 24 to 36 hours. Update: Tuesday, May 2 at 8:25 a.m.: Residents say the blast from an intentional levee breach blew out windows and swamped thousands of acres of farmland near Wyatt. 34-year-old farmer Travis Williams says his more than 1,000 acres of farmland are under water Tuesday morning following the Army Corps of Engineers' initial explosion at the Birds Point levee on the Mississippi River. Williams says his home is safe. Billy and Tammy Suggs of Wyatt say they opened up the town's tiny city hall Monday night so people had a place to gather and mourn together as the blast occurred. They say they helped to put up boards to keep the rain out after the strong explosion knocked out windows in several homes. Engineers hope the breach will protect the tiny Illinois town of Cairo from flooding.
Update: Monday, May 2 at 10:14 p.m.:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has exploded a large section of a Mississippi River levee in a desperate attempt to protect the Illinois town of Cairo from rising floodwaters.
The corps says the break would help Cairo by diverting up to 4 feet of water off the river. As of Monday evening, river levels at Cairo were at historic highs, creating pressure on the floodwall protecting the town.
The blasts were likely to unleash a muddy torrent into empty farm fields.
Brief but bright orange flashes could be seen above the river as the explosions went off. The blast lasted only about two seconds. The darkness kept reporters, who were more than a half mile off the river from seeing how fast the water was moving into the farmland.
Update: Monday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m.:
The Army Corps of Engineers will go ahead with plans to blow up a levee on the Mississippi River.
Monday evening the Corps announced it would begin the detonation later in the night, probably sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight.
The Corps said breeching the Birds Point Levee will help protect the town of Cairo, Illinois. Missouri lawmakers say it also will flood about 130,000 acres of prime Missouri farmland.
Corps officials said even though this will flood thousands of acres, destroying the levee is necessary.
Nobody has seen this type of flooding in this system, said Maj. General Michael Walsh. This is an unprecedented flood." Walsh is the president of the Mississippi River Commission.
Maj. General Walsh said the demolition should reduce water levels in some areas, but said it won TMt last long.
In some of the areas, Paducah, Cairo, as we go further downstream it will drop between three and four feet. That will get it down for a few days, but there's so much water in the system that it will come back up as it passes down further towards Mississippi," Maj. General Walsh said.
He called it a heart-wrenching situation.
According to Cape Girardeau CBS affiliate KFVS, the Army Corps of Engineers will work through the night and should finish the project between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Update: May 2 at 11:05 a.m.:
More rain is falling in southeastern Missouri, where the Army Corps of Engineers spent Monday pumping a liquid explosive into a levee.
The corps is considering blasting the levee to ease inland flooding and spare the small Illinois town of Cairo (KAY'-roh) from the rising Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
Missouri officials objected to plans to blast the levee, saying it will inundate 130,000 acres of farmland and crush the region's economy and environment by possibly covering that land under feet of sand and silt.
But the corps is clear to go ahead with the blast after Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected Missouri's plea Sunday. The corps hasn't yet announced its plans. Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh says it will take 20 hours to get the pipes filled with the explosive. Original Story: 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.
Missouri argued the floodwaters would ruin farmland and damage about 100 homes.
The Army Corps has called the possible break necessary to ease waters rising near Cairo, a 2,800-resident town where the rain-swollen Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet.
It wasn't immediately clear if Missouri would appeal the ruling.
(The Associated Press Contributed to this story.)