Corps says work on Birds Point floodway on schedule

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - When will our levee be permanently repaired to 60 plus feet? That's the question on the minds of people in Mississippi and New Madrid counties.

Work is underway to fill in the holes now. The Corps breached the system in three places in May to relieve stress on other parts of the system.

According to reports from the Corps, they are right on schedule to put the three breached areas back to 51 feet by Nov. 30. As for a timeline for the rest of the project, the Corps still isn't saying.

"Build it back to 62 feet as soon as possible," Milus Wallace is a farmer. He says that's his simple message for the Corps.

"We can put a man on the moon and we can't rebuild a levee before winter?" said Wallace. "That aggravates me."

Dredging is going on now near Wallace's land. It's close to the site what they now call the center crevasse, the site of the third blast.

Wallace and county officials tell Heartland News data shows the river has been over 51 feet seven times in the last 12 years. They fear their concerns are justified, with levees at 51 feet, flooding this spring is a good possibility.

"If that happens all the repairs, all the rebuilding, will be in vain," said Wallace.

"The Corps concern now besides money is that putting the levee back will cause stress up and down the river," said Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett. "It's my understanding they have all other necessary assessments for clearance to build it back."

Bennett says he's also still asking the Corps for more. He's trying to get in touch with legislatures in other states along the levee system as well so they can work toward a common goal.

"We need to all move in the same direction," said Bennett.

Bennett says people in the floodway have worked too hard to put their lives back together to see it all get washed away again. People say in spite of living in a vulnerable floodway area, many still feel the breach was not necessary.

Now, harvest is underway, something farmers thought might not happen. For Wallace, he's happy with his crop. He says he'd like a chance to have an even better one next year. So, he says he'll keep asking the Corps to bring the levee back up to 60 plus before winter sets in.

"We just need more workers and more equipment," said Wallace. "It's possible."

Bennett says they know money is on the way from FEMA, it's just a matter of getting it distributed to them at this point. He says with those funds and a definite timeline for levee repairs he'd feel a lot better about the next year.

We tried to get in touch with Corps representatives out of Memphis to ask them when they might be able to rebuild back up to the original height, but we were not able to because of the Columbus Day Holiday.

The Corps and Commissioners have another meeting this Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.