Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Farmers and the Townspeople

I've written before about the way we're all tied together, that it's barely possible to give to one group without taking from another, or for one population to gain without another losing. This week I've been thinking about the story that has unfolded or exploded along the Mississippi River in Missouri--a long stretch of levee blown out, causing acres and acres of farmland (130,000) to flood, perhaps making them unfarmable for years, perhaps forever. And this was done in order to save the town of Cairo, Illinois, from flooding. How do people--in this case, the Army Corps of Engineers--make such decisions? How was it that they chose the townspeople

over the farmers?

How was it that they didn't choose the farmers

over the townspeople?
Did it take the wisdom of Solomon?

6 comments:

Jim Poznak said...

Here's how they chose. I'm not saying I agree with it. There are more people and more money in Cairo compared with the farmers. Case closed.

Susan Messer said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I wonder if it's true that there's more money in Cairo. It sounds like a very small town, and the farmers are the agri-biz types, I think. Corn (probably feed corn) and soybeans. I thought maybe it was because Cairo made an appearance in Huckleberry Finn, and they chose based on literary associations (kidding).

Margaret P. said...

There was a story about this on the PBS Newshour last night. One of the guests did suggest that in the Cairo case it probably was something of a toss-up, since it is such a small town. Maybe they flipped a coin, but I'm guessing that they thought about the 6 o'clock news and visually it's more dramatic to see houses/buildings get swallowed up by a river than to see the river swell up over farmland.

Susan Messer said...

I like that theory. Better visuals for the media. But wait. Didn't they let the fields flood instead of the town?

The Four of Us said...

We've been following the story on NPR
http://www.npr.org/2011/05/09/136144268/flood-waters-push-down-the-mississippi-river

It is a hard thing to imagine --I think I recall a scene in Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow, a flood and witnessing possessions float by as he watches from shore (I don't have my copy handy to refer to) realizing how the water has the power to wash away just about everything startled us all...

Susan Messer said...

Thanks so much for this. Yes, that thought of flooding. The images are so powerful.