Archive for category BPNMF

‘Upon Their Shoulders’…history of the MRC…

UPON THEIR SHOULDERS – A history of the Mississippi River commission from its inception through the advent of the modern Mississippi River and Tributaries Project

By Charles Camillio

Really a really, really good read so far….Really…..Kp

Might be a good Christmas present idea for residents in the BPNMF region…try Amazon and don’t forget BIG COLORING books for the kids…Remember, RIF…reading IS fundamental…

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A BIG HAT’S OFF to Andrew Ambrose for piloting us home safely after today’s flyover of the BPNMF; also kudos to Aaron Wallace – aaronvalleytrees You Tube – and generational farm owner of the floodway for setting up the plane ride; BTW, AA is also a generational landowner and farmer in the area and recalled a cool story about a 1937 sand deposit left on land he farms today…While, obviously, not a lot of conversation took place during flight but enough to understand the importance of what we were seeing today – as opposed to my early May flight and AA’s numerous flights with Randy Sutton. Wallace has documented the third activation site with incredible historical instinct. I can only post a few of these on the KRON, but will put full album on FACEBOOK this evening with explanation of the photos and a recount of what I saw then (early May) and what I photographed today..

This is the first shot as we approached the first activation at Birds Point. This shows the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers; the old Cairo bridge sits in the middle of this photo looking East….

The Confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers

You can vividly see where the Ohio meshes with the Mississippi in this photo; the tugboat just entered the Mississippi….

First activation point; 62.5 levee is far left; 51 foot adjoins...

This location is where the water first started flowing from the 9,000 foot breach into the floodway; the 2,000 unexploded section sets at bottom left of photo; reconstructed 51 foot levee adjoins…

close up view

An incredible amount of reconstruction has been done to this points.  * see latest USACE update…..

Just wanted to get some of these posted;  the initial ones I’ve put thru Photoshop; AW was filming video of the ride which he will upload later today on his aaronvalleytrees….; I snapped about 270 pics…so I will put the remainder of them on FB when I get them edited and content to go along for context; I’ll also try to include relevant shots from my first flyover in early May….Again, thanks to Andrew Ambrose for taking us up…It was a cool ride and far different from what I saw after activation….;

More to follow…Kp




It’s been six months since I’ve seen the Birds Point New Madrid Floodway from the air…; the last time was just days after activation. I had seen the north end just before May 2 in a helicopter fly over in the Governor’s group that was detoured due to inclimate weather in the specific area we were intending to fly that day; including hail…*at a very ironic location.

The first time I went up during a flood was not during this Flood of Record, courtesy of Mark Stallings. My initial birds-eye view of an epic flood was in 1993 – I believe – with Senator Bond’s representatives courtesy of the National Guard; I was filming for Rodney McConnell – the man who produced my early history and sports doucuemtnaires – who was compling the stuff for Tom Schutle of the Senator’s staff…

That flood was focused in the south end of the BPNMF but more so in other parts upriver on the Mississippi. But, I remember that day being quite leery of sitting open-side on the right of the chopper; I was also strapped in with – at the time – bulky recording equipment so the crew took special care with my restraints.

Eventually leaning out seemingly over the craft getting a look at Big Oak Park; and then up the river to Commerce, where the crew landed; it was an awesome ride.


This time, – 2011 – with Mr. Stallings at the helm, it was a surreal event. Seeing the aftermath of the activation first hand just days after the water began streaming into the floodway. It still boggles my mind and I saw it – and took photos of it; but it still all seems so surreal….

Tomorrow, I will have the privilege of being flown by Mr. Andrew Ambrose and will be accompanied by aaronvalleytrees documentarian and generational land owner in the floodway – Aaron Wallace.

For the record,I have seen this stretch of the water all my lifetime; In fact, learning how to water ski in the Hickman Bend during summer pool in the mid 70’s; I have crossed the Dorena Hickman Ferry a century of times if once…

I’ve looked at it from every bluff in Kentucky with a view; looked at Google maps and fished and swam in many parts of it…so, I felt like I knew it well…but, after looking at it from above – -flooded –beyond comprehension; and then travleing in a jon boat over the roads I’d driven on but this time using telephone poles as markers thru the waters courtesy of Mr. Pete Story I had a different view of the ground I grew up on…

No, I don’t have a financial stake in the floodway. I am not a farmer. But I loved that land, too. It mean a lot to me – and my memories. And, I have talked to enough iconic figures in the floodway long before; and during and subsequent to the flooding of their homelands….

They’re still in shock. No other way to describe it. I had a talk with one *gentleman – who I will keep anonymous – that owned a good deal of ground in the floodway and had a home in the water.  Raised a wonderful family; happily married and settled – so it seemed – into his twilight years….

That’s all changed now. And, it makes him sad.

I’m going up due to continuing interest in the reconstruction of the floodway. Mr. Ambrose is being generous with his time and Aaron Wallace continues to put together a monumental piece of historical documentation.

So, wish us luck and the Lord willing and creek don’t rise again, I’ll post photos tomorrow evening….Kp



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Another side of General Walsh…

As Major General Michael Walsh will soon be finished with his duties as President of the Mississippi River Commission and head to Washington, D.C. to continue his career, here’s a different look at the man who made the difficult decision to activate the Birds Point New Madrid Floodway….

…”I’m from Brooklyn, New York; I went to Brooklyn Technical High School,” said the General in conversation outside of his official press conference held Friday at the Middle Crevasse.

“…in our part of the world you ask people what high school you went to and that tells you where you’re from in different areas, so that’s kind of a New York question you asked, what high school you went to. That’s something we do all the time as opposed to around here where  you ask where your family is from whereas in New York they ask where you went to high school. So that was a good question.”

I then followed up with this nugget; KP: “Where did you matriculate in college?

MG Walsh: “I went…my Dad was a bricklayer and he said I could go to college anywhere I could afford myself and the subway would take me to. So the next stop on the subway was a place called Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute of New York, so that’s where I went to my engineering school.”

The talk then turned to the World Series and who his favorite team was…

“I’ve been following the Yankees for more than a little while and my wife is from the Bronx so if I wasn’t a Yankee fan before I married her I certainly am now…”

I then asked the General about his prior posts.

“Prior to taking this command I was commander of the Gulf Region Division in Iraq. I worked directly for General (David) Patreaus and prior to him getting there worked directly for Gen. (George) Casey.

“So I was building infrastructure in that country. Not only water infrastructure but rail, transportation, electricity, schools, hospitals and things of that sort.”

I interjected, somewhat in awe, sounding like a dummy to the General I’m sure, “Iraq?”

Walsh replied, “In Iraq.”

Then, continued on with the interview with not a hint of condescension to my goofy comment.

“Prior to that I was commander of South Atlantic Division; same job that I have here only covered down on the east coast so I was working water resources on that part and we had nine hurricanes during those three years so we spent a lot of time chasing Hurricanes across Florida and there into the Carolinas.”

Walsh will be moving to Washington, D.C., to assume his new post soon.

“I change command on the 10th of November and General Peabody, a really good fellow, John Peabody is coming in from the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. He’s going to take over for me and really carry it on…he’ll become the President of the Mississippi River commission as well, and I’ll go to Washington and I’ll be the Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations.”

“So, what I’ve been doing here at the center part of the country. I’ll have those responsibilities for the entire country.”

It’ll be in good hands. We then talked on what transpired during the activation of the BPNMF.

“Certainly – and you’ve heard me from the 30th of April – as how to describe this flood. If it’s an epic flood, a historical flood. I kind of look at it now from a white knucke flood. Everybody’s hands were just wringing on did we make the right decision; too early, too late. Did we save lives…

“I can tell you from the other side of making those decisions not a single life was lost and we’re really quite proud of the system that was put in place by those folks after the 1927 flood. They decided to put something likes this together and the nation rallied around and put 13 billion dollars to put the Mississippi Rivers Tributaries Project into effect.”

“So I was really proud to be one of those (MRC) Presidents that were able to operate this (BPNMF) from what people thought about in 1927 and very happy to have this system in place.”

“In 1927, 500 people lost their lives. This year, nobody lost their life.”

I then asked the General, “if we ever have to do this again, we’ll be working off the 2011 revision of the 1986 revised plan based on the original 1927 plan. Isn’t that accurate?l

“Right now we’re putting the system back together as it was authorized by congress and it’s the ’86 plan. We’re not going to  update it until we get the additional funds to figure out whether we’re going to leave it in place at 62.5 and explosively operate it or if there’s going to be something else.”

“At this point, we’re putting it in place – funding dependent – at 62.5 and explosively operate the system.”

What is the purpose of the press conference today *(Oct. 21)?

“The discussion today is, one, to come out and look where we are in the progress and renew our committment to get to 51 feet by the end of November and to inform folks that we are able to bring it up 55 feet funding dependent.”

Kaylie LaChelle and Mason Lee meet the GENERAL....

*(Walsh received notification of the approved funding at 1414 hours Oct. 21 just prior to the beginning of the press conference.)

Walsh on the amount of work done by the USACE: “There’s about $22 million worth of funds that have been pushed into this project to put this back to the 51 feet. So a good portion of the funds that have been harvested from across America coming into this…which of the $75 million, $25 million of those funds, one-third of funds available to me are coming right here…”

And, the final question dealt with the significance of the ‘coins’ awarded by the General to USACE workers.

“Considering I have two titles; one is the commander of the Mississippi Valley Division and one is the President of the MRC; the medallion have on one side the commander’s thanks and the (MRC’s) thanks on the other side.”

Glad I got that pertinent issue cleared up. From the looks on the workers who received them, they are cherished items.

I will have a personal look at Colonel Vernie Reichling coming soon on the Kp Chronicle…

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Corps update: Oct. 24…notice to proceed…

The systems approach mentioned often by Major General Michael Walsh at a Friday press briefing at the Middle Crevasse, is being put in motion as indicated by a USACE release today (Oct. 24).

Corps issues Notices to Proceed on construction work in Cairo, Ill. Area

MEMPHIS, Tenn., OCT. 24, 2011 – The Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers announced today that they have issued two Notices to Proceed for construction contracts
in the Cairo, Ill. area.

A Notice to Proceed was issued Oct. 20, for contractor Inquip & Associates,Inc. 
of McLean, Va., to begin construction of a slurry trench above Cairo, Ill.
This project is located along the Upper Mississippi River in southern Ill.
and is aimed at addressing areas of under seepage that have been identified within the levee system.

A Notice to Proceed was issued Oct. 19, for contractor Quaternary Resources
of Baton Rouge,La., to begin construction of Relief Wells above Cairo, Ill. This project
consists of furnishing all labor and materials for the construction of 28 wells. This
work will also address areas of under seepage in the levee system.
Work is expected to begin on the relief wells on Monday, Oct. 24 and the
slurry trench no later than Nov. 1.

The Confluence area has been a serious concern from the USACE perspective. Exhaustive study and geo-technical analysis was conducted to determine the 55′ interim level the Corps decided to raise the level to on the upper crevasse that would not cause undue stress to other parts of the system.

This historic junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is marvelous item to research….

To be cont.,…

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