Broken Levees

Flood of 2011 Along the Mississippi

Corp Says 90 Days Before Assessment of New Madrid Levee

It will be at least three months (that’s 90 days) before the Army corp of  Engineers will be able to come in and  do and assessment of the levee they blew up to save the town of Cairo, IL back at the beginning of May, 2o11. This means at least until August before anything will be done about the people in Southeast Missouri. We will be well into fall. The farmer’s crops are all but lost for this year. We already know that 130,000 plus acres of farmland has been lost in the region, not to mention the Village of Pinhook, Missouri was destroyed in the breaching of the Birds Point Levee.  Also gone were the small communities of Dorena, Windyville, and Wolf Island Missouri.

The following story below can be found at


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R) a letter explaining a timeline for effort to rehabilitate the Birds Point – New Madrid Floodway that was flooded after the corps intentionally breached a levee on May 2.

According to the letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, “Restoring the floodway as soon as possible will be a top priority. Following operation of the floodway, it is estimated that it will take 45 to 60 days for the water to recede, if there is no additional rainfall. After the water has receded, it will take another 21 to 30 days for the land to dry out. At that point, an assessment will be made to determine the extent of restoration that will be required.”

The letter is in response to an inquiry from Emerson and Missouri’s two U.S. Senators asking for levees to be rebuilt and the floodway restored.

“The sooner the Corps can start on levee restoration, the quicker people in Southern Missouri can get back to their homes and land, assess the damage there, go back to work, and put their lives back in order. This has been a deeply painful experience for thousands of people in the Eighth Congressional District, and I look upon the Corps’ commitment as the first bit of good news we’ve gotten in quite some time,” Emerson said in a statement..


May 19, 2011 Posted by | Army Corp of Engineers, Cairo Illinois, Floods, Levee, New Madrid, Pinhook, Southeast Missouri, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ask Corp to rebuild Birds Point Levee

The Army Corp of Engineers have not committed to rebuilding the levee that flooded a large part of  Southeast Missouri at this point.  The flooding has continued south to Louisiana. Over the weekend Corp has opened up levees in Louisiana.  It could be awhile before we see anything from them in restoring the levees in Missouri.

The flooding not only affected farmland in Southeast Missouri, but also displaced hundreds of families, including the predominantly African American community of Pinhook, Missouri.

WASHINGTON, May 11 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh Wednesday encouraging him to rebuild the Birds Point-New Madrid levee in Missouri as soon as conditions allow.

The levee was intentionally broken in three locations to open a 30-mile-long floodway to alleviate pressure on the swollen Mississippi River. As a result, approximately 135,000 acres of cropland was flooded, crippling the livelihoods of hundreds of farm families.

As yet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not committed to rebuilding the levee once the flood waters recede.

In the letter, Vilsack urged the Corps to make a public commitment to rebuild the levee, saying, “The more quickly the levee can be rebuilt, the sooner our farmers and ranchers can be back in their homes, back in their fields, and back on their feet.”

Downstream, the Mighty Mississippi crested this week at its highest level at both Memphis, Tenn., and Helena, Ark., since 1937 and is forecast to reach record heights later this week in Louisiana and Mississippi, submerging several hundred thousand more acres of farmland on top of the estimated 1 million acres in Arkansas and 500,000 acres in Tennessee already inundated.

Farmers along the river and its tributaries predict it’ll be sometime in June before the water recedes and their fields are repaired, limiting their planting options.

“There’s still a lot of land flooded in these river bottom areas on both sides of the levee and it’s a real mess, quite a bit of damage,” said Ted Glaub, who manages farmland from the Missouri Bootheel to Louisiana.

“Wherever the current comes in, it’s going to take all of your topsoil away and that’s going to create totally new soils,” he explained.

About 80 miles to the west, Perry Galloway, who farms about 7,000 acres of higher ground near Arkansas’ White River, feels like he’s already done an entire growing season’s worth of work, but it’s only mid-May.

“It’s been very stressful.”

Galloway planted his corn at the end of March and was ready to move on to rice when 14 inches of rain sidelined him for four weeks. He got his cotton planted on time but was only able to seed 125 acres of rice. The rest of his land will go to soybeans.

It could’ve been much worse.

“There are people in the floodplain who had 100% of their crops planted in late March-early April and they lost every bit of it – thousands of acres. They’ll have to replant every acre,” Galloway said.

Some of his neighbors were unable to empty their grain bins before the river encircled them. One producer lost 175,000 bushels of old-crop rice valued at $900,000.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Army Corp of Engineers, Cairo Illinois, Floods, Levee, New Madrid, Pinhook, Southeast Missouri, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Missing Pinhook

My last visit to Pinhook was seven years ago. I hate to think it has been that long ago. I had returned for a funeral.  My mother recently asked me to go back with her to clean out a storage unit of my grandmother’s belongings so we could locate some important papers.  We were in the process of planning a trip back to this spring to take care of this when we got word of all the rain that was beginning to fall and the possibility of the Army Corp. of Engineers breaching the levee.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think they would do this.

I thought back to the floods of 1973 and 1974. We had moved from Pinhook and taken my grandmother’s trailer home to town at the time. Most of the families had decided to leave. My mother was adamant that she was going to remain.  The other families told her she could not stay alone with her two young children.  It was just too dangerous. With the potential of  the water rising, there was no way that it was remotely safe for her to stay. She insisted that she remain and protect her property. After they convinced her to finally leave, we packed up our essential belongings and headed out. Well, my mother, hard-headed as she is, insisted she drive her car. We were placed in the bean truck with a gentleman mother drove Pontiac Le-Mans through the flood waters. Now, imagine, the ditches on either side of the road were at least 6 feet deep or more, and the water on the road was almost covering the hood of the car as we drove slowly for the mile out of this water.  We got through it, on pins and needles no less.  We spent about three or four months away from our beloved Pinhook until it was deemed safe to return home. Our cousin Jerome Robinson and Mr. Eza Lee Cross stayed in our home, at my mother’s request to protect our home.  Jim Robinson and his brothers, Cal and Lynell who were farmers, all remained on Pinhook to protect the property of the homeowners. George Williams, who drove our school bus had moved his family into town as well.

In 1974, we made the move once again into town. Some of us moved to Charleston instead of East Prairie this time.  We again were gone a few months. Now, you must know that during this time, the flood waters never reached the homes on Pinhook on the main road. Jim Robinson and a few 0thers who lived  a few miles a little farther back, weren’t so lucky.  After Jim and his family rebuilt that last time, they made the decision to build closer to other families. Most of us helped in the rebuilding.  My last trip home was to Jim’s funeral.  My grandmother married his uncle, so we were related by marriage.

After my husband and I moved to New York, it became more difficult for us to travel home. We could only make one trip back home a  year. My mom moved away as well, and now she no longer lives in Missouri. We now have to split our time between two families. I miss home more than ever.  When I dream, I dream of Pinhook. Its the only real home I ever had.

Another person who was important to me recently passed away. Mary Williams. She was like a mother to me. I spent more time at her house than mine.  My husband and I had just returned home to New York from Missouri when we received word of her passing.  It’s like losing a part of who you are.  I miss her even though I had not seen Mary in a long time, I still yearned for what was. I miss her children, because they were like my brothers and sisters growing up.

So as I have been sitting here watching the news and the levee being blown up by the Army Corp of Engineers, I think back to all of my childhood memories. That is not to say that I don’t think about them before this. It’s just it has put them at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis more than ever.  I think about the clubhouse that Faye and Vanessa and I used to build.  It all makes me remember us riding our bikes down to the corner, then going down in the field, down that little dirt road past the row of trees, back around  to that little spring and come up in front of Daddy Jim’s house and pick some Pecans.  Maybe ride our bikes down to Retha and Jim’s house.  If that didn’ t suffice, head on over to the church and hang out down by the row of trees and feel the cool breeze by that old tractor.  Maybe have a water fight from house to house. Oh, what about everyone coming to my mom’s house for cool drink of water from her fridge and listen to her get mad about it?

I miss Pinhook.

Nita Kaye Jarman

May 8, 2011 Posted by | Pinhook, Uncategorized | Leave a comment