Friday, April 29, 2011

Judge Limbaugh mulls ruling on Birds Point case

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - A federal judge in Cape Girardeau is expected to make a decision soon on the Army Corps of Engineers’ authority to destroy the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County.

Construction of the Birds Point levee was completed in 1932, and was built to serve as an emergency button to relieve upstream communities from flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Judge Stephen Limbaugh says that he needs more time to go over what he called the case’s complicated, technical, and esoteric details. He offered no indication of when he will offer a ruling.

Limbaugh added that he was uncertain that he even has authority to rule on the matter, citing a previous decision in the 8th District Court of Appeals.

The levee was only blown up once - in 1937.

Record high river levels at Cairo prompted the Corps to send a barge full of explosives from Memphis to Hickman, Kentucky. Once the river stage at Cairo reaches 60.5 feet, the Corps could decide to denote the explosive on the levee. The river level at Cairo is currently just below 59 feet.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit earlier this week that blocked the Corps’ plan.

The states of Illinois and Kentucky joined the Army Corps of Engineers as defendants.

Detonation of the Birds Point levee would lower river levels and decrease the risk of flooding in Cairo and other southern Illinois communities. It would also flood 130,000 acres of Mississippi County farm land. It is estimated that 75 to 90 houses are in the area. About 200 people live there.

An Army Corps of Engineers economist testified that damage to Mississippi County would reach $330 million.

Most of the floodway properties have flowage easements. Owners would likely not receive compensation for their losses.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


Post a Comment