What a rainy day this has been. From the minute I rolled over and hit snooze on my alarm, to the raindrops sliding across my bus window right now on the ride back to Columbia. Rain usually discourages traffic and activity; but it didn’t stop us, and certainly not Bill, from learning.
This morning we were fortunate enough to visit with Major Jon Korneliussen, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to hear another voice of the Birds Point levee controversy. I’ll admit, after hearing from Milus Wallace first, I was emotionally attached to his story and on the defensive about the Corps actions on May 2. But as Gina said this morning on the bus, “There’s your side, my side and the truth.” As a journalist, I had to look past Wallace’s anger and frustration and listen to Korneliussen’s side of things. He’s sympathetic to landowner frustration, but he’s bound by government regulations to work with what he’s got to build the levee back.
Today was a powerful day. I got to see the epicenter of the Birds Point breach and the clean-up process occurring on the land. I got to see the desolation of Cairo, Ill., which was spared from the flood. And I got to stick my boots in the Mississippi River, another first for me.
And more importantly, we all got our boots a little muddy on this excursion. I think Sonja Hillgren would be proud.
-Lauren Schad, Edited by Jessica England