Flooding still threatens communities despite Missouri levee blasts

May 4th, 2011 - 7:35 pm ICT by BNO News  

BIRDS POINT, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — Despite the Ohio River level dropping after the Army Corps. of Engineers breached the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, Missouri, record-setting levels and flooding are still threatening communities along the river valleys.

The Army Corps. of Engineers late Monday night breached the first section of the Birds Point levee to avoid further flooding, and save the town of Cairo, Illinois, which is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and has been in danger of being wiped out by the flooding. Most of its 2,800 citizens have been evacuated.

Immediate reports after the initial levee breaching indicated that the Mississippi River dropped several feet after the explosions, but, even after the Ohio River dropped to 60.62 feet early Tuesday, it remained well above the 1937 record of 59.5 feet.

On Tuesday afternoon, a second section of the levee was breached at New Madrid, Missouri, while the third and final blast is planned to be carried out on Wednesday near Hickman, Kentucky.

The controversial decision would send a tremendous amount of water through approximately 130,000 acres of farmland in southeast Missouri.

Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker later told KFVS that due to the breaching several cemeteries and grave sites in Mississippi and New Madrid Counties would be flooded, creating the possibility that caskets, burial vaults or skeletal remains may be uncovered and float or be washed along with the current.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and other government offices have been coordinating to handle the possibility and recover any remains found in the water. Identification and re-internment would also be handled by the government.

In addition, a group of attorneys later filed a class action complaint on behalf of farmers whose land was flooded when the levee exploded.

The complaint filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers argued that the property rights of the farmers and landowners under the 5th Amendment to the Constitution were violated when a 15 foot high wall of water was released and flooded their property.

The complaint charges that the action violated the “takings clause” of the 5th Amendment which bars the government from taking private property without due process of law. The complaint asserts that the Corps did not have easements over property in the floodway that are required before the Corps could be allowed to breach the levee at Birds Point.

The complaint was filed on behalf of 14 farming operations and their owners as plaintiffs, but it is seeking certification as a class action on behalf of all individuals and entities affected by the flooding.

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