Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Intervenes to Protect Western Kentucky from Potentially Catastrophic Flooding
Attorney General Jack Conway intervened today in a federal lawsuit to help protect parts of Western Kentucky from potentially catastrophic flooding.
"I intervened in this case because it is potentially a matter of life and death for Kentuckians who live along the river," General Conway said.
The case stems from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' flood plan that has been in place since 1928 to help protect parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois from flooding. The plan calls for the Corps to detonate a levee on the Mississippi if flood waters reach 60 feet on the river gage at Cairo, Ill. The Birds Point – New Madrid Floodway is located along the Mississippi River near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The Corps purchased easements to farmland in Missouri, and the water would flood that farmland instead of destroying homes and businesses downstream in Cairo, Ill. and Hickman, Ky.
Yesterday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to stop the Army Corps of Engineers' from detonating the levee because he said it would flood 100 homes.
Today, Attorney General Conway and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan intervened in the case to protect their residents.
"River levels haven't reached this high in 80 years and the Army Corps estimates that if the levees are not detonated when the river reaches 60 feet it could cause more than $32 million dollars of damage in Fulton County alone," General Conway said.
If the levy is not detonated, Corps officials estimate that 3.9 feet of water will flow over the top of the floodwall in Hickman – endangering lives and property.
In a sworn affidavit, Fulton County Judge Executive David Gallagher said, "I have know of the Bird Point – New Madrid Floodway all of my adult life. The floodway is common knowledge in Fulton County. People have resided and built homes in Fulton County relying on the existence of this floodway as an alleviation of flooding problems in Fulton County.
Fulton County Attorney Rick Major has been assisting the Office of the Attorney General with the case. The federal judge hearing the case is expected to make a ruling tomorrow.