Corps of Engineers shutting down levee work at Birds Point

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered work to rebuild the Birds Point levee to stop.

Due to National Weather Service forecasts of unseasonably high river levels and more to come, Maj. Gen. John Peabody, commander of the corps' Mississippi Valley Division, has directed an orderly shutdown of construction in the floodway project area and the installation of a temporary flood barrier at the upper crevasse. The move will temporarily bring the system to a 55-foot level of protection on the Cairo, Ill, river gauge. Before a May intentional blast to relieve Mississippi River levees upstream, the levee provided protection to 62.5 feet. Before the installation of the temporary barrier the levee provided protection to 51 feet.

The barrier, known as a HESCO barrier, is a large, collapsible wire mesh container with heavy-duty fabric liners filled with sand.

On Wednesday the corps issued a general warning to those with property or interests in the floodway to keep a close eye on river levels after recent heavy rains pushed those levels well beyond what's normally seen this time of year. The Ohio River at Cairo stood at 43.65 feet at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and was expected to crest at 44 feet Wednesday morning.

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