Missouri official asks Supreme Court to prevent Mississippi River levee blast
CAIRO, Ill. — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster asked the US Supreme Court yesterday to block federal officials from destroying a Mississippi River levee as they try to prevent flooding in a small Illinois city.
The Army Corps of Engineers is considering blowing a 2-mile hole into the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri, which would flood 130,000 acres of farmland in Missouri’s Mississippi County but protect nearby Cairo. The city of 2,800 residents is being threatened by the dangerously swollen Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Koster’s bid Saturday to stop the plan, though corps officials are monitoring water levels and haven’t decided whether to go through with the blast.
“In light of the devastation faced by the citizens of Mississippi County — devastation that will persist in the area for years to come — it is the responsibility of this office to pursue every possible avenue of legal review,’’ Koster said in a statement.
Cairo’s mayor issued a mandatory evacuation Saturday, then passing thunderstorms dumped rain overnight on the already waterlogged region. By yesterday morning, water levels broke a record along the Ohio River, adding to the worries of emergency officials.
Police went door to door yesterday to make sure people were leaving, though about 20 to 30 families refused to evacuate, according to the Illinois National Guard. Those residents signed waivers indicating they understood the risk.