Levee Breach Dooms Tiny Black Community

A flooded street in Pinhook (Kansas City Star)
A flooded street in Pinhook (Kansas City Star)

The Kansas City Star reports that A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to blow up an eastern-Missouri levee to prevent flooding last month appears to have sealed the fate of a tiny African-American community.


The corps blew holes in the levee in early May to relieve pressure on communities upriver that were being threatened by floodwaters. Pinhook, a town of about 30 residents, took a big hit when water from the bloated Mississippi River flowed through it.

"It's never going to recover," said George Williams, who lived in the town for nearly six decades. "It won't. It's over with."

Mayor Debra Tarver said residents have asked the government to relocate them, as one unit, to another area in Mississippi County. The people want to stay together, and they believe that since the government destroyed their homes by blowing up the levee, the government should pay to relocate them away from an area that could be flooded again whenever the corps chooses..

But that looks unlikely, according to Rep. Steve Hodges, an East Prairie Democrat. "In my opinion, I don't think that will happen," he said. "I don't know where the money would come from. I think it would be a very nice gesture, but I think it would set some kind of really rare precedent. It is probably the government's responsibility to some extent. But that? I don't see it." He says he expect the residents will get some sort of reimbursement from either FEMA or the corps, and they'll be on their own to carry on their lives elsewhere.

"It's sad," he said. "That was such a great community. But this is a thing that's happened and it's probably going to be lost in time. It's a shame."

"It's a shame" is a bit of an understatement. Precedent (or lack thereof) aside, we're talking about a community of 30 people here, not 30,000. How difficult could it possible be to relocate them all to the same place? Preventing as much flooding as possible required fast action and tough decisions on the government's part — we would hope it would dedicate the same energy and commitment to righting the wrongs that resulted.  


Read more at the Kansas City Star.

In other news: 'Brown v. Board' College Grants Go to Whites. Fair?

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