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Hundreds attend East Prairie premiere of film about levee breach
EAST PRAIRIE, Mo. -- "Man Made: Disaster at Birds Point" was a big hit at its premiere Friday.
The short documentary film produced by Osborn and Barr, a communications company in St. Louis specializing in agriculture, begins with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to breach the Birds Point-New Madrid levee with explosives at three sites alongside the Mississippi River to activate the floodway.
The film then goes on to show the effects of flooding 130,000 acres.
"Agriculture is one of the last great industries we have in this country," said Neil Caskey, director of advocacy and rural affairs for O&B, to those gathered in the East Prairie High School gymnasium for the film's first public showing.
Mississippi County Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett said he was pleased with the turnout for the premiere. The gym's bleachers were filled with well over 100 area residents and around 400 high school students.
"I saw people from Anniston, Bertrand, Sikeston, East Prairie, Charleston -- every community in the area was represented," Bennett said.
"I used to live in the spillway and my dad was in the 1937 flood -- he was 16 at the time," said Joyce Page of East Prairie who was among those attending the premiere. "I enjoyed watching it."
"I thought it was great," said Kevin Mainord, mayor of East Prairie. "It tells the whole story in that short 10 minutes. I think it will help us reach people outside this area who have influence as well as those people who mistakenly thought the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took the correct action in blowing the levee."
The cost to make the documentary "was entirely borne by O&B," Caskey said. "It wasn't a cheap proposition, but it was a worthy investment. We're really pleased -- hopefully everyone here was pleased."
"Our goal today was to make sure this community had the first chance to see this film," said Erin Hamm of Osborn and Barr, a native of New Hamburg, Mo. "This is just the beginning."
The documentary is now being distributed to national and local media outlets as well as media specializing in agricultural issues.
Caskey said they would like to present the documentary to an audience in Washington, D.C.
"Are they going to rebuild the levee to the original height and strength? That will be our measure of success because that is how they measure it here," he said.
"We're not going to rest until we make them put this levee back," Mainord said.
To view the film and for more information visit O&B's website, disasteratbirdspoint.com.
East Prairie, MO