Sunday, May 1, 2011

Decision Time

This isn't exactly The Loop vs. The Lou, but it is Missouri vs. Illinois. And not on the basketball court.

In downstate Illinois, you have Cairo, IL. Wedged in between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, this town of 3,000 is the southernmost town in Illinois. And now it is being threatened by rising water levels. In 1937 it was the Ohio. This time it's the Mississippi. The solution that the army corps of engineers has come up with is to blow-up a levee and flood over 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland (and 100 homes). This blogs respective newspapers are on top of the story. Chicago Tribune explains the situation here. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch here. Please keep in mind that these links may change as the story develops.

If the state borders didn't go by rivers there is no way Cairo would be in Illinois. Judging from Google Maps, the distance from the Mississippi and Ohio at Cairo is less than 2 miles and appears to be narrower to the north of it. This little piece of land could easily be Kentucky or Missouri. And if it were Missouri, the Supreme Court might not have to step in.

So what's the right move here? Save a 3,000 person town which has been evacuated? Or blow up a levee and destroy 130,000 acres of farmland but only 100 homes? Should Missouri land suffer to save an Illinois town?


Ryan said...

Rolls, I've been hearing about this on the radio up here as well. In fact I think today I just heard something about Cairo still being threatened in spite of the 130,000 acres in MO flooding.

What's the update?

Also, I'm not really sure what your comments are meaning about Cairo not seeming like it should be part of IL.

I remember the big flood of '93 and hearing maybe 6 months later the Army Corps of Engineers (who essentially make these decisions) said they learned they should ahve let the river flood up north where the land was cheap and few residents. Hopefully, they got it right this time.

You know, there may be an analogy here with forest fires. When I was living in CO, fires were a problem. A guy I met who knew about fires, etc., said one of the problems with us fighting every little fire is that the brush in the forest builds up so that would might be a grass fire will catch the trees and we were setting ourselves up for a "100 year fire".

I've heard of 100 year floods too.

Ryan said...

Coovo! Upon closer inspection, it turns out our beloved Coovo is back. I just assumed this was a Roller post...

Great to see you have taken the pen out of the inkwell! Well done sir.

Coovo said...

Oh I'm back and ready to walk like an egyptian. Or at least talk about a city that has the same name as the biggest city in Egypt.

All I was trying to say with the borders was that it wouldn't be a battle between states if the state lines were straight like Colorado, Wyoming or Utah. It's just weird to me when I looked at the map how these three states are within 2 miles of one another.

It looks like they did blow up the levee, and maybe saved Cairo but other towns downstream are not necessarily out of the water. Pun intended.


Kevin said...

i knew that about not fighting every little fire - does that mean i'm a guy who knows about fires? nice.

FWIW, i don't think that analogy holds water.

Roller said...

The Arab Spring rises to liberate one Cairo, while the American Spring rises to threaten annihilation of another. If Mubarak hadn't sunk some money into levees instead of the Caymans, perhaps Cairo wouldn't be in this mess.

I will call myself out here and say that I have not read up on the story enough. If anyone else has and wants to take the time to explain it, what happened to the MO farm families that got the short end of the stick on this?

John Hanrahan said...

As someone who has been to Cairo, IL they should have let the city flood. The city was booming in the late 1800's and early 1900's but is now a ghost town. I would be curios to see how many fires have been set in the city of Cairo, IL in the last 10 years for insurance.

Roller said...

Purple Crackle?

Coovo said...

The age of the internet and demand for the next breaking story can be quite funny sometimes. When I went back to the Tribune website a day or two later the story about Cairo was nowhere on the front page. A search barely turned a story about how the decision had been made to save the town. My boss, whose husband is originally from a town about 20 minutes from Cairo (apparently pronounced KAY-ROW) said that some of the people whose farmland was destroyed live in Cairo. I couldn't find an article that said that so take it for what its worth. Maybe they work on the farms.

I did juts read that one missouri farmer said that it cost him a 350K-400K wheat crop revenue and since it will be too late to plant corn the flood could cost him as much as 1.8M in revenue (

I also read that Governor quinn just signed a bill creating a the alexander-Cairo port designed to bring jobs and businesses to the area. Also at end of this link is a youtube video about cairo. (