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Corps to execute floodway project

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Over flight of Birds Point (Source: Army Corps of Engineers) Over flight of Birds Point (Source: Army Corps of Engineers)
Over flight of Birds Point (Source: Army Corps of Engineers) Over flight of Birds Point (Source: Army Corps of Engineers)
A street in Cairo, Illinois on Monday. A street in Cairo, Illinois on Monday.
NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

Maj. General Michael Walsh, President of the Mississippi River Commission, says he has decided to operate the floodway project at Birds Point - New Madrid Floodway.

See the updated story here.

Maj. General Michael Walsh, President of the Mississippi River Commission, says he has decided to operate the floodway project at Birds Point - New Madrid Floodway.

The Army Corps of Engineers will begin blasting at 9 p.m. Monday. The corps expects to see water flowing into the floodplain area around midnight.

They will work through the night, breaking another section of the levee in the southern part from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday.

The final execution of the project will be in the upper portion between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday.

They are in the final stages of preparation of the charges.

Maj. General Walsh says it is a "heart-wrenching" situation.

"This is the right time to operate it," Walsh said.

Maj. General Walsh called this flooding unprecedented and historic and said public safety was his number one issue in initiating the plan to blow parts of the levee.

"Safety is our number one priority," Walsh said. "And that was the main reason we stood down operations last night during lightning storms."

This breach will create a lake in the floodway in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Around 150 members of the Army Corp of Engineers are working with the Coast Guard.

No civilians will be allowed in the area of the blast.

Breaking the levee means flooding about 133,000 acres of farmland and 100 homes in Mississippi and New Madrid counties.

Heartland News will be on the scene Monday night in Mississippi County with live coverage when the breach takes place.

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The decision on whether or not to execute the plan to blow the Front Line levee at Birds Point will take place Monday.

Breaking the levee means flooding about 133,000 acres of farmland and 100 homes in Mississippi and New Madrid counties.

If the Army Corps of Engineers decides not to break the levee, the city of Cairo could flood as the Ohio River continues to rise.

The corps last said they are still in a holding pattern monitoring the rising river levels.  However, the corps released a statement calling for media to be in Sikeston at 10 a.m. to register for credentials IF a decision to blow the levee is made.

The corps was still pumping in the slurry mix explosive agent into the pipes in the levee Monday morning.

"The constituents I represent, their property and our regional economy are directly in the path of the major flooding event the Corps is contemplating at this hour. The destruction of the levee would be a tremendous hardship for Southern Missouri. I want the Corps to be one thousand percent certain that detonating the Birds Point levee is necessary, and I want them to be completely committed to restoring the floodway once this situation has passed," Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson said Monday.

Sunday afternoon Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, President of the Mississippi River Commission, briefed the media with Mo. Sen. Roy Blunt and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson at the SEMO Regional Port in Scott City.

Maj. Walsh directed Col. Vernie Reichling, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District Commander and field crews to move the barges across the river to Missouri and load the pipes with the binary agent at the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway on Sunday.

Walsh said he will review the situation continuously as conditions change.

The next step, and final step, is to activate the floodway by artificially breaching the levee.

The final decision to activate the floodway has not been made. Again, the Corps says the final decision has not been made.

Gov. Jay Nixon Sunday issued the following statement regarding the most recent developments on the flooding situation in southeast Missouri:

"I traveled to New Madrid yesterday afternoon to meet with local elected and emergency response officials, and to again view the large area already impacted by flooding, or threatened with flooding," said Nixon. "This was my second trip to southeast Missouri in the past five days. Accompanying me were Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, the Adjutant General; Missouri Public Safety Director John Britt; and Col. Ron Replogle, Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Troopers from the Highway Patrol also have been assisting local law enforcement in patrolling area roadways.

"The people of southern and southeast Missouri who have been suffering because of these destructive floods should know that we will continue to provide all the state resources we are able to alleviate that suffering."

More can be found on the Governor's official website.

Gov. Nixon says that while he continues to oppose the proposal to breach the levee, the state of Missouri has made tremendous efforts in the last few days to assist local law enforcement in evacuating the floodway.

More than 700 Missouri National Guard members on the ground in the area secured the homes and personal property Sunday of those who have been evacuated.

Also, there is a new record high at Cairo. The river was recorded at 59.86. The new forecast for the crest is 63 feet on May 4, 2011.

Officials say this is putting an enormous amount of stress on levee systems.

"The Mississippi River and tributaries system has never been under this type of pressure before," said Major General Michael Walsh with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Additional heavy rains could cause more flooding and more strain on the levees. The corps was using other measures to try and relieve pressure.

"We are holding back as much water as we can in reservoirs in the entire Ohio River Basin," said Major General John Peabody.

"I'm going to give the public as much notice as I can if we activate the floodway," Walsh said.

If you want to keep up with the Birds Point plan yourself, you can check out the Army Corps of Engineers' Birds Point New Madrid Floodway Joint Information Center page on Facebook.

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