(Photo by Scott Welton, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County officials hosted visitors from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand on a tour of the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.
By viewing the area firsthand, the visitors hoped to gain insight on the breaches blasted into the frontline levee by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the impact of the subsequent flooding in the spillway.
Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett explained how the volume and velocity of water from the swollen Mississippi River scoured gorges and channels in the county's farmland including 60-foot deep "blue holes" adjacent to the breaches.
Once a blue hole has been dug, the levee must be rebuilt around it when it is restored. "You can't put enough sand in the hole to fill it up," Bennett said.
As the water slows, he continued, sand and silt drop out of the water and cover valuable topsoil with sand inches or even feet deep.
"If you ask us, we will say it didn't work. If you ask the Corps, they'll say 'it worked as designed,'" Bennett said regarding the activation of the floodway.
Commissioners noted the county was able to safely evacuate all residents from the floodway so there was no loss of human life.
Upon viewing the devastated farmland in the spillway, visitors asked who would be paying to restore the farmland to the useable condition.
Commissioners explained landowners are doing the best they can at this point to do it on their own and haven't received any offers of help from the federal government yet.
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