Mississippi River Commission holds public meeting


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - David Dycus
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - We all remember how rapidly the floodwaters of 2011 rose, and the Army Corps of Engineers worries it could happen again.  That's one of the reasons they want to hear from you.
Monday, the Mississippi River Commission traveled to the Local 6 area to do just that as part of a public meeting.

The Motor Vehicle Mississippi was packed with people who waited hours to voice concerns and complaints to President Barack Obama's appointed Mississippi River Commission.

Lots of comments stemmed from changes or damage caused by the flood of 2011.

Cairo, Illinois Mayor Tyrone Coleman thanked the Corps for their response, but asked them to hault reconstruction of the Bird's Point Levee.

"We're inviting new development to occur in the New Madrid Floodway, which will undoubtedly make it harder for the commission to use the floodway" Mayor Coleman said.

He's afraid reconstruction will encourage growth in that area, and the Corps will be less likely to detonate the levee during another flood.

"We do not believe our town's public safety should be traded for these benefits nor do we believe this is a responsible use of federal dollars," Coleman said.

But the $1.1 billion project is 60-percent complete, and the commission assured Coleman they'd activate it again during the flood, and that Congress is the only one who can change that.

But Coleman still worries, and said he even wrote a letter to the president.

"I'm just hoping and praying other alternatives possibly come forward," Coleman said.

The boats next stop is Memphis, Tennessee, where the Corps will hold a simlar meeting Tuesday.  The commission says after this tour, the next public meeting will be in St. Louis in August.