It's high drama along the Mississippi River these days -- as the river reached near record levels last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the difficult decision to blow up a levee and flood acres of Missouri farmland in order to save the town of Cairo, Illinois.
We had a chance to drive down to tip of the Missouri Bootheel this weekend, dropping into tiny Campbell, Missouri, which is practically in Arkansas. After making our way across state highways that had been closed due to flooding, we were able survey the peach trees (mighty fine!) before crossing into Illinois and, following the swollen river, make our way up Highway 3 back toward St. Louis.
And of course we stopped in Cairo.
At the time of our visit, the town was eerily quiet. As Daily RFT's Chad Garrison has detailed previously in this blog, Cairo's population has taken a major hit in recent decades, and the once-bustling city would probably look a bit empty even if its entire population of 2,831 was in residence.
But on Saturday, it was even more empty than usual: The town had been evacuated, and we didn't see a soul other than state troopers, a few Cairo police officers and workers using a backhoe to shore up the rocks around the railroad tracks. The river at the edge of town was lapping at the rows of sandbags along its banks, but it seemed clear that (thanks to the Army Corps and the blown levee) the biggest threat to this town was in the rearview mirror.
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