U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after being briefed by federal and state officials on the impact of yesterday's decision by Major General Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers to intentionally breach the levee at Birds Point in order relieve pressure to levees downstream and potentially save Cairo, Illinois – a town of roughly 3,000 people – from devastating floods.
"While breaching the levee at Birds Point has relieved pressure and lowered water levels, Cairo and other towns along the Ohio River are not out of the woods yet," said Durbin. "Dangerous sand boils and weakened levees are being monitored around the clock by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. At the same time, roughly 500 National Guard troops have joined hundreds of local residents in the effort to beat back flood waters. I told everyone who participated in today's call that I stand ready to help in any way I can in Illinois and Washington over the next few days, weeks and months."
Durbin was briefed today by Lieutenant Colonel D. Craig Hamilton from the Memphis Army Corps District; Colonel Thomas O'Hara, the Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District, Jonathan Monken, the Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA); and Major General William Enyart, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.
Monday, Durbin took to the floor of the United States Senate to stress the severity of the flooding in Southern Illinois and pledged to support federal assistance for those affected. On Friday, Durbin toured the region and visited Cairo to consult with federal, state, and local officials on their flood preparation and control efforts.