COLUMBIA - KOMU listened in, via phone, to a press conference Tuesday in Mississippi County, where Maj. Gen Michael J. Walsh, President of the Mississippi River Commission gave an update on the levee breaching in Mississippi County.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached the Birds Point Levee last night, flooding several nearby farmer's crops and farmland, a decision Walsh said was difficult to make.
"It is quite sobering when you give the order to operate something like this and you have that type of impact and flood a number of our farmers and the farmland over this short mount of time," said Walsh.
Officials said they are confident the levee and flood wall will preform as designed. However, they said they are concerned the floodgates are at 50 feet, when the current crest is 48.5 feet.
"What we have done is taken flood fighting measures in concert with the mayor of Caruthersville and basically, what we have done is build big sandbags around the flood gates and installed pumps, and so if we do have wave loss or splash over of the floodgate, we will immediately be able to suck that water back up, put it in a big pool and put it right back over top of the levee," said Walsh.
Officials said the project is executing as they designed.
"I have had hydrologists in the Mississippi Valley Division taking a look at the risk associated to the people as well as to the levees and we have come to the same conclusion that we see no elevated risk with only one outflow currently in place; we see no elevated risk to the town of New Madrid or to the town of Hickman, Kentucky or Cairo," said Memphis District Engineer, Col. Vernie L. Reichling Jr.