Residents asked to evacuate flood-threatened town

Missouri: As flood-engorged Mississippi River reaches record levels, an Illinois mayor has urged its residents to evacuate the town of Cairo.

Cairo Mayor Judson Childs asked “senior citizens, people with medical conditions or special needs along with families with children that live in single-storey homes” to be ready leave the flood-threatened town, according to a statement.

A federal judge on Friday had ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may intentionally burst a Mississippi River levee in an effort to prevent the flooding of the town, CNN reported.

A 1928 law allows the breach of the levee to ease the pressure on the Mississipi River.

The Corps’ plan would flood more than 130,000 evacuated acres — much of it farmland — in southeastern Missouri, according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Koster said the corps is trying to protect the town of Cairo in Illinois located downstream.

James Pogue, chief spokesman in the Corps’ Memphis office, said the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway is a “safety valve” in the current crisis and would help direct the flow of the excess waters.

“This allows us to do what nature will do anyway, (but) in a controlled system,” he said. During the flooding barges would be moved north on the river to prepare for the levee breach.