Gov. Jay Nixon this afternoon released the following statement regarding the decision by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to intentionally breach the Birds Point-New Madrid Levee:
"One week ago, I activated the Missouri National Guard to protect lives and property in southern and southeast Missouri because of forecasts of historic flooding in that region. In recent days, rainfall has exceeded those initial forecasts, and Missourians are coping with record river levels along parts of the Mississippi. Today, more than 760 Citizen-Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard are on the ground in southeast Missouri. In cooperation with state, county and local law enforcement, they have evacuated the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway and continue to provide protection for the property families have left behind. I appreciate the tireless and professional efforts of all men and women of the Missouri National Guard, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local agencies who are working long hours to complete their missions.
"Earlier this evening, Major Gen. Michael Walsh of the Corps of Engineers informed me of his decision to proceed with plans to blow a hole in the levee at Birds Point as soon as possible. This explosion will send a tremendous amount of water through approximately 130,000 acres of farmland in southeast Missouri. The General's hope is that this action will relieve pressure on other parts of the levee system and save lives.
"As we have throughout this historic flooding, the State of Missouri will continue to provide resources and personnel to protect the people of the Bootheel. We have boots on the ground. We are prepared. And southeast Missouri will move forward again.
"I urge Missourians to continue to cooperate fully with state, county and local law enforcement, as they have at every stage of this process. Together, we will ensure that Missouri families stay safe in the coming days. And together, we will recover and rebuild."
Gov. Nixon has toured the flooded region three times, including a personal visit into the floodway Sunday evening. The Governor plans to return to the region tomorrow (Tuesday) to survey the situation.
Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information or referrals are urged to call 211. The 211 service number is now available for most areas in Missouri. In areas where the 211 number is not operational, citizens can call 800-427-4626. Weather and emergency information also are available on the state of Missouri's website, Mo.Gov.