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Army Corps blows up levee to help fight unprecedented Mississippi River flood (1.89 mega-cfs)

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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-03-11 02:24 PM
Original message
Army Corps blows up levee to help fight unprecedented Mississippi River flood (1.89 mega-cfs)
Edited on Tue May-03-11 02:27 PM by phantom power
A brilliant string of explosions rippled across a two-mile length of the Mississippi River levee at Birds Point, Missouri at 10pm last night. As the levee disintegrated, a 4-story high cascade of muddy brown water from the Father of Waters gushed into the crevasse, thundering with the flow of eight Niagara Falls. The waters quickly spread out over 133,000 acres of rich farmland, rushing southwards along the 35-mile long Birds Point-New Madrid Spillway. The levee that was destroyed--called a plug fuse levee--was designed to be destroyed in the event of a record flood. In a marathon 20-hour operation, 150 engineers from the Army Corps of Engineers packed 22 wells in the levee with explosives on Sunday and Monday. A raging thunderstorm with dangerous lightning halted the work for a time on Sunday night, as the engineers were pulled off the levee due to concerns about lightning. Final approval for the demolition occurred after a series of failed court challenges, brought by the Attorney General of Missouri, ended at the Supreme Court on Monday. Damage to the farmland and structures along the the Birds Point-New Madrid Spillway is estimated to cost $300 million due to the intentional breach of the levee. The fact that the Army Corps is intentionally causing 1/3 of billion dollars in damage is stark evidence of just how serious this flood is. The Birds Point levee has been demolished only once before, during the historic 1937 flood.

...

he levees on the Lower Mississippi River are meant to withstand a "Project Flood"--the type of flood the Army Corps of Engineers believes is the maximum flood that could occur on the river, equivalent to a 1-in-500 year flood. The Project Flood was conceived in the wake of the greatest natural disaster in American history, the great 1927 Mississippi River flood. Since the great 1927 flood, there has never been a Project Flood on the Lower Mississippi, downstream from the confluence with the Ohio River (there was a 500-year flood on the Upper Mississippi in 1993, though.) On Sunday, Major General Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers, President of the Mississippi Valley Commission, the organization entrusted to make flood control decisions on the Mississippi, stated: "The Project Flood is upon us. This is the flood that engineers envisioned following the 1927 flood. It is testing the system like never before."

At Cairo, the project flood is estimated at 2.36 million cubic feet per second (cfs). The current prediction for the flow rate at New Madrid, the Mississippi River gauge just downstream from Cairo, is 1.89 million cfs on May 7, so this flood is not expected to be a 1-in-500 year Project Flood. In theory, the levee system is designed to withstand this flood. But the Army Corps is in for the flood fight of its life, and it will be a long a difficult few weeks. Here's how Major General Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers described his decision yesterday to blow up the Birds Point levee:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.ht...
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Scuba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-03-11 02:26 PM
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1. Sacrificing food to save shelter. Interesting tradeoff.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-03-11 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Most days, this forum just leaves me thinking - "I'm going to hate the future."
x(
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-03-11 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. "Shelter" doesn't grow back.
And there's no shortage of food.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-03-11 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Where is all our popcorn going to come from?
:popcorn:
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-04-11 04:47 AM
Response to Original message
5. Ok ... I'm confused ...
> Damage to the farmland and structures along the the Birds Point-New Madrid Spillway
> is estimated to cost $300 million due to the intentional breach of the levee.

I thought the whole point of putting those "Spillways" and "designated flood plains"
in place was to allow precisely this action in the event of an emergency?
i.e., they were designed in as "safety valves" after the major flood events in 1927
(or whenever it was).

Am I mixing this up with some other use of the term "spillway"?

If not, why is anyone grumping about the known, predicted reaction to an emergency
event that has been known about and predicted to occur (albeit not "when") for the
best part of a century?

You build on a flood plain? You're gonna be f*cked when it floods.
You are the idiot, not the river, not the rain, not the ACE.

:shrug:
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