Decisions often are made between a rock and a hard place.
At 10 o’clock on May 2, the Corps blasted the first of three levees near Wyatt, Missouri, in response to record mountaintop snowmelt and rain flooding the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, respectively.
“We get excited about things that seem simple,” said Major John Korneliussen of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Working under a congressional mandate, the Corps became inundated by objections from residents and farmers living adjacent to and farming within the designated floodplain, which received the excess flow of the two big river systems.
“It’s not fair for you to say, agriculturally, we sacrificed this agricultural area to save everything down the river,” said Martin Lucas, a land surveyor and resident of East Prairie — a city adjacent to the floodplain. “I don’t like that argument, it’s not fair.”
The Corps did what was necessary, considering the political and economic implications of saving Cairo, Ill., and other cities farther down the Mississippi River — namely, New Orleans, said Korneliussen.
By: John McLaughlin
Edited by: Jessica England