Which Would You Flood?
By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
Here we have a photo of some of the 130,000 acres the Army Corps of Engineers has flooded. The Corps blew up portions of a levee to protect the town of Cairo, Illinois, which sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The rivers were threatening to flood the town. Its nearly 3,000 residents had already been evacuated.
I’m glad I don’t have the job of choosing between town and country when the rivers are rushing to make their own decision. It can’t be easy. But it seems to me that when there’s a choice to be made, farmland loses. And I don’t know if that’s the way it should be.
If population density is the deciding factor, the 130,000 acres lose. The land, which is known as the spillway, is in Missouri. It has about a hundred houses and some 200 residents. If Cairo flooded, nearly 3,000 people would have been made homeless.
Looked at that way, the decision is easy.
But there’s another way to think about this. Tiny shoots of corn are just coming up in the spillway. The wheat is about knee high. This is land that feeds tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people. Some of those people are doubtless in Cairo.
Cairo eats. The spillway feeds.
Houses can be rebuilt in months. The rich soil the flooding washes away will take years, if not generations, to restore.
I’m glad nobody asked me to decide. If you think I know what’s right here, then I’ve failed in making my point.
My heart is aching for the people in the spillway. When I make decisions that affect only me, I tend to lead with my heart. But this one isn’t about me, and my head isn’t smart enough to figure it all out.
Read these and see how you’d decide:
Posted on May 4th, 2011 by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
Filed under: Agriculture