With a flash of light and a massive rumbling that shook windows miles away, the Army Corps of Engineers set off explosives at 10 p.m. along the first of several sections of the earthen barrier, sending 550,000 cubic feet of water a second across the 130,000 acres of farmland known as the spillway. There were 90 homes in the spillway, but under the cover of darkness it was impossible to gauge the initial devastation.
Blowing up the levees is expected to save the town of Cairo, Ill (pop. 2831). The number of households saved is about 10 times greater than those lost. The stories are very sad but the economics seems clear. Also sad is the government subsidization of living and working in a floodplain.