Corps evaluating third levee breach

A muddy gap in the Birds Point levee, flanked by flood-torn trees and young soybeans, gives the Army Corps of Engineers a reminder of what it is reevaluating this fall: The guidelines for the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, which led to three levee breaches and widespread flooding last summer.

The third and final levee blast is of particular issue. It was was intended to provide some relief for the river but also increased flooding across Mississippi County, East Prairie, Mo., Mayor Kevin Mainord said. Though the third levee blast was legal, Mainord and area farmer Milus Wallace say it was unnecessary.

“We are evaluating that third breach,” Corps Major Jon Korneliussen said. “We want to know if we got what we needed out of that.”

The Corps intended to blast the third opening thousands of feet wide, but a lack of proper explosives meant the explosion opened up 500 feet.

“The intent was to open that up fully, and we didn’t see that,” Korneliussen said.

The Corps’ evaluation will determine if floodway activation was the best course of action and done in the most effective way. The Corps also is determining if the 1986 change to the Flood Control Act of 1928 that calls for the third levee breach is still a necessary component of the floodway emergency plan.

— Tony Schick, edited by Emily Garnett & Sarah Alban

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