No final decision has been made to blow the fuseplug levee in Missouri. Explosive-laden barges are being moved to the levee and will arrive at 9:30 tonight, or so. They’re taking this one step at a time. After the barges arrive, they have three more steps to go (move barges into final place, charge the explosives, then explode them).
The water gauge is at 59.1 feet in Cairo. 59.5 is the record. But the general in charge of the operation says he’s not so much worried about the levee being overtopped as he is about seepage and, particularly, those nasty sandboils that are continually forming in Cairo. Another press conference has been scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock. Check back.
The U.S. Appeals Court in St. Louis on Saturday denied a request by Missouri’s attorney general for an injunction to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from opening up an emergency floodway to ease near-record flooding on the Mississippi River.
On Friday, a U.S. district court had rejected the state’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the move, which would send a quarter of the Mississippi’s flow coursing over 130,000 acres of prime farmland and homes of some 200 people.
Major Gen. Michael Walsh, president of the Mississippi River Commission and a top officer with the Corps, has said he can’t be sure whether he will activate the floodway to reduce pressure on levees and protect surrounding towns amid expected record flooding at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Earlier this week, he ordered the Corps to bring barges with explosives and other materials to the area from Memphis, Tenn. […]
Saturday morning, the Ohio River was within inches of the 59.5-foot record set in the 1937 flood at Cairo, Ill. The river is expected to crest on May 3 at one foot over the record and stay there for several days, according to the National Weather Service. That would strain levees in places such as Cairo and Hickman, Ky.
* From a reader…
Some info to help the folks in Cairo:
The current stage in Cairo is 59 ft on the Ohio River. That is equivalent to an elevation of appx. 330 ft. The forecast crest is equivalent to an elevation of appx. 331.5 ft. Most of Cairo has an elevation of between 310 and 315 feet.
Bottom line if the levee were to fail: Cairo would be under 15 to 20 feet of water. (That would be over the second story on most buildings.)
Please pass this on to anyone who might be able to use it. They may feel free to contact me. (I formerly worked for the Illinois State Geological Survey and lived in the area. I worked in Alexander County during the 1993 flood.)
Thanks for all the info on the Missouri floodway; you saved me a lot of search time.
Geology Professor, IVCC
Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh has given the order to move barges carrying 265 tons of explosives upriver in Kentucky from Hickman to Wickliffe, putting them in position to blow the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, Mo. But corps officials said the general has yet to decide whether he will blow the levee and will re-evaluate the situation Sunday.
“We are moving the barges to Wickliffe, Ky., and they are going to hold there,” spokesman Jim Pogue said. “We’re essentially at 24 hours out of operating the floodway, but essentially in a holding plan.”
Walsh, a top commander at the Corps, has decided to move to the next step in the process, but Pogue said it was not indicative of whether Walsh was leaning toward fully activating the plan, which would divert floodwaters through approximately 130,000 acres of spillway mostly in Mississippi County.
Walsh is expected to address the media at 4 p.m. today at the Corps’ joint operations center in Sikeston. Pogue said he will give an update and field questions from reporters.