Missouri flood control threatens farmland

Residents take photos from a levee wall holding back floodwaters from the Ohio River in Cairo, Ill.

JEREMY HOBSON: In Missouri the Army Corps of Engineers has blown a hole in a Mississippi River levee. The corps did that late last night to prevent rising floodwaters from inundating cities like Cairo, Illinois. But the move means huge swaths of prime farmland will be destroyed.

Hubert Delay is the county clerk in Mo. and he joins us now. Good morning sir.

HUBERT DELAY: Good morning.

HOBSON: Well, tell us about this blast that happened last night.

DELAY: We weren't expecting the explosion to be so large. In fact just a few minutes after the explosion took place, our house started shaking, our windows started rattling. It felt like a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. It was tremendous.

HOBSON: And is there water pouring in now from that exploded levee?

DELAY: Yes, the Ohio River has dropped about 1 foot.

HOBSON: What are the economic consequences for the farmers who live there?

DELAY: Well, the economic consequences will be dire for the farmers and not only for the farmers, for our entire county. Not only will the farmers lose their crops and all that are already in there and probably won't be able to put a crop in, but that's going to have a ripple effect on the rest of our county. Agriculture's the life blood of our local economy here.

HOBSON: The Army Corps is doing this, it says because it wants to prevent worse problems. Do you think that they're making the right decision here?

DELAY: Well, that remains to be seen. Of course the Corps maintains that this is a flood of historic proportions and they insure us that the system had to be operated the way it was in order to relieve pressure both up river and down river.

HOBSON: Hubert Delay is the county clerk in Mississippi County, Mo. which is dealing with the effects of an explosion of the levee there. Mr. Delay, thank you so much for talking with us and good luck.

DELAY: You're most welcome, thank you very much.

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