Cairo Il. mayor orders town evacuated: huge pressurized sand boil (Updated)

The mayor of a small southern Illinois city threatened by two swollen rivers ordered all residents to leave by midnight Saturday because a "sand boil," an area where river water was seeping up through the ground behind the levee, had become dangerously large. Cairo Mayor Judson Childs issued a mandatory evacuation order for the city of 2,800 residents late Saturday afternoon hours after meeting with Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, the Army Corps of Engineers officer tasked with deciding whether to blow a hole in the Birds Point levee in Missouri, downstream from Cairo, to relieve pressure on levees along the dangerously high Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Walsh, who toured Cairo's levee area, described the boil that has been growing since it was first spotted Tuesday as the largest he had ever seen, the Southeast Missourian newspaper reported."

The situation in that part of the country is dire. "Southern Missouri has gotten 473 percent of its annual average rainfall, says the Weather Channel. Major flooding continues in the Mid-Mississippi and Lower Ohio Valleys. In some locations, river levels are either reaching record levels, or are at levels not seen since the 1930s. Rain continues today and is expected to continue." The levees are groaning under pressure to hold all this water back. One solution was to blow up the levee where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet, The Birds Point Levee. from barges loaded with 250 tons of explosive. (I wonder how the New Madrid Seismic Zone will appreciate that).

Blowing the levee would relieve pressure on the levee but on the downside it would inundating roughly 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland (200 square miles) and 90 homes. The region has never had this much rain, period. Rainfall is at catastrophic levels and 5 more inches are predicted. The rivers are already at historic flood stages and with the addition or more rain it could mean that the rivers stay at historic levels for five more days.

When the action to blow up the levee was first proposed, MO officials sued the Federal Government to stop it. Late this week, the Feds declined to stop the Corps of Engineers' decision, and now the decision rests one man, Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh. The key marker for whether to blow up the levee is if the river reaches 61 feet, and it is at 59.62 today as of 5 AM.

"If General Walsh orders the levee breached, the two barges will pump explosives into an 11,000-foot system of pipes buried below the levee. A detonation crew will then blast the levee, allowing water to tear through the gap at an estimated 550,000 cubic feet per second, which they expect to drastically lower water levels upstream. Over the following 24 hours, the crew would blast two more holes in the levee downstream, allowing the water to re-enter the river," reported the NY Times yesterday.

Add to the swollen rivers, the historic levels, the unprecedented rain, now a sand boil near the levee. "Walsh, who toured Cairo's levee area, described the boil that has been growing since it was first spotted Tuesday as the largest he had ever seen, the Southeast Missourian newspaper reported. Sand boils occur when high-pressure water pushes under flood walls and levees and wells up through the soil behind them. They're a potential sign of trouble."

We know the weather has gone crazy. I wrote in this week's newsletter (email me to sign up) that "Terrible weather this week! I say that every week! And it just gets worse! The Ecuadoran folks at Banos are enduring an erupting volcano spewing boulders the size of truck raining down on them. Earthquakes are on track for a 200% rise in most magnitudes. The tornado outbreak the south went through this week is the second worst-ever, and it may become THE worst before all the counting is done. And now come the floods, drought is still rampant, and wildfires in Texas are still wiping out whole counties.

Superlatives are continually being used. Wikipedia defines superlative as "In grammar, the superlative of an adjective or adverb is the greatest form of that adjective or adverb. This indicates that something has at least one feature to a greater degree than anything it is being compared to in a given context." Most, Biggest, Worst, and the ever-popular Record-breaking and the like are routinely attributed to today's weather events. Superlatives lose their meaning when the degrees they are being compared to routinely exceed the comparison, every day. These days weather events are demonstrably off the charts. When The Tribulation starts, the charts will be shredded, because there will be no context for what will be happening. Do you see how close we are?"

Man has covered the earth with infrastructure, manipulated the land to yield life-supporting food or factories. When more rain than is expected comes, or bigger than ever tornadoes, or earthquakes where they have never been, it is disrupting in a way that we can not even foresee nor even calculate monetarily. Alabama has suffered massive train damage, it is not even being reported. The railway system as suffered unimaginable destruction. Railways are important to the flow of getting food and other good in and around the country. Roads, bridges, culverts, and public buildings are wiped out in many areas of the south. Do we have money to pay for rebuilding all that? No. Plus engage in three overseas wars, donate to the UN, fulfill donation pledges to Chile, Haiti, and Japan for help in their time of earthquake need? No.

You see how easily the house of cards we have built on the earth can be dismantled. This time, just some extra rain did it and the middle section of the country is at risk.

UPDATE: Flood may top 1927 record "A surge of water not seen since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 is forecast in coming days to test the enormous levees lining the Mississippi River on its course through the Deep South, adding another element of danger to a region already raked by deadly tornadoes and thunderstorms. Mississippi's and Louisiana's governors issued flood warnings Thursday and declared states of emergency."