Tags: Severe Weather | Flooding

Corps Breaks Levee to Save Illinois Town

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 06:56 AM

WYATT, Mo.— A few momentary blasts, flashes of orange light, and the Mississippi River began pouring through a wide hole in a Missouri levee.

The Army Corps of Engineers blew the Birds Point levee open Monday night in the hope of saving the small Illinois town of Cairo.

Even as the corps' breached the levee, floodwaters are rising downriver, including in Memphis, Tenn. And this effort isn't expected to ease those flooding concerns.

Blowing up the levee sacrificed 130,000 acres of rich farmland and about 100 homes in Missouri to spare the Illinois town of 2,800 residents that is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Corps officials say the breach should reduce water levels in Cairo by up to 4 feet by late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

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