Senator questions Corps nominee on Birds Point Levee rebuilding

WASHINGTON (KFVS) - US Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Thursday questioned the nominee to lead to the US Army Corps of Engineers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the challenges Missourians are facing after the 2011 floods.

McCaskill specifically asked Lt. General Thomas Bostick Thursday about his commitment to rebuild the Birds Point Levee back to the legally-required height of 62-point-five feet.

"It was very controversial," said Sen. McCaskill.  "All of us opposed the blowing of Birds Point.  It was at 62.5 feet before it was blown.  So far, the Army Corps has only rebuilt it to 55 (feet).  I need a commitment from you today, Lieutenant General, or as soon as you can give it to me if you're not comfortable giving it today, that it will get rebuilt to 62 (feet)."

"Senator, if confirmed you have my commitment that I will work with the Corps of Engineers and ensure that they work as quickly as possible, using the funds appropriated by the Congress to do the repairs that are necessary," said Bostick.

"That's a great answer, except it wasn't the answer I was looking for," replied McCaskill.  "I need to know from you and I need to know before my vote on you, whether or not you will make the commitment that what the Army Corps blew up they will put back to the way it was before they blew it up.

At this point, most of the Birds Point Levee is built back up to 55 feet.

Mississippi county Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett says right now, the big question is, when the levee will be completed?

He says the holdup involves how the floodway would be activated in the future, since the slurry-mix used to blast it last spring is no longer available.

Bennett says they hope to have the levee back to its pre-blast height by the end of summer.

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