Hopes Rise as Rivers Fall

River levels began to fall after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew a hole in a Missouri levee to ease pressure on dams protecting towns where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi. Joe Barrett has from Sikeston, Missouri. Photo retrieved from: www.wsj.com

“As of 9 p.m. local time Tuesday, the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill., —which had been mandatorily evacuated—had fallen by more than a foot and a half, to 59.95 feet from 61.72 feet before the 10 p.m. explosion Monday.

“It saved our town,” said Cheryl James, a resident of Mounds, Ill., where river waters began to recede overnight. The water had been up to her second step Monday night. On Tuesday, her sidewalk was dry.

The sense of relief in Mounds and other river towns came at the sacrifice of Missouri farmers who cultivate more than 130,000 acres in the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway now inundated by the controlled breaching of the levee.

What once had been a broad vista of well-tended farms was replaced Monday by a vast lake, with treetops and some farm buildings poking through the surface of the water. Worried growers took up positions with binoculars along the levee, along with cattle seeking dry land.

“We hope that by blowing the levee that it did help somebody,” said Ray Presson, 56 years old, who farms 2,400 acres that were under several feet of water. “It didn’t help us much, for sure.”

Farmers filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking class-action status, charging that the Corps wrongfully took their property by allowing water to deluge the floodway. More than 50 farmers gathered at a Charleston, Mo., library to listen to lawyers filing the lawsuit. Lester Goodin, who farms 560 acres, said he signed up as a plaintiff to make sure he would have the wherewithal to rebuild once the water subsides.”

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

 

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