Midwest dealing with potential flooding

April 30, 2011 at 11:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- While the U.S. South is recovering from deadly tornadoes, the Midwest is dealing with potential flooding on the Mississippi River, officials said.

A judge Friday gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a green light to blow an opening into Missouri's Bird Point levee near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in an effort to prevent worse flooding downriver, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

The plan isn't without its critics -- many of them downstream from the levee authorities want to breach.

"The big challenge to doing this is the fact that these flood plains are privately owned," said Jeffrey Opperman, an ecologist and a senior adviser to The Nature Conservancy. "People have made significant investments, including generations of families' time, turning them into productive farms," and any successful approach must be "very consistent with private-property rights."

Rising waters also threaten parts of New York.

WPTZ-TV, Plattsburgh, N.Y., said that town's mayor has declared a state of emergency for parts of the city because record lake levels have pushed water into several areas of town.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state disaster emergency in Essex County after a series of storms caused flooding, power outages and other damage.

"These hard-hit communities need their roads and businesses open and a return to normalcy as quickly as possible," Cuomo said. "I have directed state agencies to provide any and all assistance and to help coordinate countywide cleanup and repair operations."

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