Armchair Analysis: Saving Cairo From Flood Was Financial Wash

Categories: Community, News
birds point levee 4.jpg
Cairo (red dot) sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The photo on the left shows the normal condition of the rivers; the image on the right is after the Birds Point levee was destroyed.
The Army Corps of Engineers decision last month to blast the Birds Point Levee to save the town of Cairo, Illinois, will cost Missouri farmers $42 million, according to the University of Missouri.

The school's Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) came up with the figure based on estimated yields and prices of crops grown in the 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland flooded following the levee breach. The FAPRI report (viewable here) suggests that farmers would have grossed $85 million from corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, cotton and rice planted in the flooded region.

Of that $85 million, farmers would likely net about $45 million in profits. The study further suggests that farmers spent at least $15 million prior to the flood preparing for the planting season. That sum will not be recouped, meaning total losses for farmers actually add up to around $60 million. The good news is that insurance and disaster funds will repay the farmers $18 million. Take $60 million and subtract $18 million and voila! You get a total loss for Missouri farmers of $42 million -- or $314 per acre.

Based on that figure, let's see if saving Cairo was economically worth it...

Cairo has around 2,800 residents today. In 2009, the per capita income of those residents was $14,797, according to the Census. Assuming -- at worst -- that all those people would have been put out of work for a full year had their town flooded, you come up with a loss of economic activity of $41.4 million ($14,797 x 2,800). That figure is just slightly less than the $42 million in losses the flood cost Missouri farmers.

So, there you have it. Damned if you let Cairo flood; damned if you don't.

Note: The cost of rebuilding Cairo had it flooded is another formula all together. But as we've suggested before, perhaps the town is not worth rebuilding.

My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
MeToo
MeToo

Cairo should have built their own levee instead of flooding others who were smart enough to prepare. "Oh, we don't have to do anything. Others will save us. Long as I git mah welfare check, I'm okay." N.O. Katrina all over again.

Mcdowellcr
Mcdowellcr

IT WAS NOT JUST CAIRO IT WAS UP AND DOWN IL. AND MO. THE HELL WITH THE THE LIEING FROMERS .

Bang76
Bang76

Perhaps the Birds Point Levee was overtopping anyway, I do not know the details or know from experience. But....should Cairo have attempted any levee building of their own? Would a levee in Cairo have kept temporary flooding away and both sides of the MIssissippi River would have been saved? Does Cairo bear ANY responsibility?  Just curious is all....

Jon1234doe
Jon1234doe

The Birds Point levee was already overtopping before it was breached by Army Corps of Engineers.  So if the Army Corps of Engineers didn't breach the levee, the cropland behind the levee would have been flooded anyway.  So the losses already existed before the levee was breached.  Thus, $41.4 saved versus $42 million already lost, is a more accurate statement. Regardless, the Birds Point New Madrid Floodway is not only operated for Cairo, IL.  www.mvm.usace.army.mil/publica...   The next time you "Armchair Analyze" anything, just a little research would goes a long way.

Icelady1964
Icelady1964

Thank you. Those of us who live in Cairo are sick and tired of the media "using" Cairo as the scapegoat reason for blowing the Bird's Point Levee.

Bill Hannegan
Bill Hannegan

When the levies were built, the Army Corp of Engineers warned that they would blast them in order to save Cairo from a flood.

Chad Garrison
Chad Garrison

 Well, perhaps that policy needs rethinking now.

Mcdowellcr
Mcdowellcr

THEY SHOUD NOT REBUILT IT BACK IT WAS BUILT FOR THAT .

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...