Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Army Corps starts to blow up levee to flood 130,000 acres in Missouri

(CNN) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed more explosives early Tuesday that it will use to breach the Birds Point-New Madrid levee and divert floodwaters at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers onto Missouri farmland.

Col. Vernie Reichling, commander of the Army Corps Memphis District, told reporters that the first phase of the project had been carried out successfully around midnight and that the process of laying down additional explosives and detonating them on the southern side of the levee would continue through the early morning hours.

The blasts, near the southern border between Missouri and Illinois, are part of a three-stage process to intentionally breach the levee -- and, in the process, pave the way for tons of water to flood 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland -- to alleviate pressure caused by historically high water levels in the rivers.

Reichling called the amount of flooding "historic as well as tragic."


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