The Cost of the Birds Point Levee Breach

Between May 2 and 5, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew three holes along the Birds Point levee, flooding 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland.  And that’s the last thing anyone can agree on.

The Corps says the levee breaches were part of a pre-established emergency plan to save Cairo, Ill., from imminent flooding of the Mississippi River.

Local Mississippi Co. authorities say the Cairo levee was never in serious danger of breaching, and both areas could have been saved if the levees had been allowed to overflow naturally.

For Wanda Wallace, the argument is moot.

She and her husband, Milus, lost their house, farm buildings, the homes of their hired hands, and 1,300 acres of corn and wheat when the third hole was blasted in the levee.  Wanda rattles off this list calmly, but when she gets to the loss of her five beloved coon dogs, she can’t speak.

Regardless of who gets the last say, the Wallaces are sure of only one thing: they must rebuild their lives.

“We are so blessed,” Wanda Wallace said, “We are going to get our levee back and we are going to get our lives back.”

Emily Garnett, edited by Ben Unglesbee


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