Farmland and lives under water

Listen to this edition of Field Notes

When a river is unleashed, you’ve got no choice but to stand back.

And that’s what the farmers in the southeastern corner of Missouri are doing as they grapple with the aftermath of a man-made AND natural disaster.

“… I figure that anything that I can’t have control over there’s no sense in worrying about it. So some things I can’t do anything about. I can’t do anything about them blowing that levee. You know, we’ll make it, we’ll survive,” explained Ed Marshall, who farms about 2,000 acres of wheat, corn and soybean in this floodplain by the Mississippi River.

In the first week of May, the Army Corp of Engineers blasted open the levees on the Missouri side of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to release swelling waters that were threatening to spill over floodwalls at Cairo, Ill.

And today, more than two weeks later, the levees are still open, and the river keeps flowing in. About 130,000 acres of farmland are under water.

Cairo is dry, but the people who farm and live along the Missouri side of the rivers are beginning to size up an uncertain future.

And that’s where Field Notes comes in. I bring you this episode — via truck, boat and helicopter — from Mississippi County, Mo., where the water rules supreme.

And here are some of my photos of the destruction.


The view from above:



Milus and Wanda Wallace survey the damage to their home:



The Wallace home is a wet mess:



The site of the third levee blast: