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Morning headlines: Tuesday, June 21, 2011

YANKTON, S.D. – Gavins Point Dam releases 150,000 cubic feet per second of water June 14, 2011, a record that more than doubles the previous high release.
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Jay Woods)
YANKTON, S.D. – Gavins Point Dam releases 150,000 cubic feet per second of water June 14, 2011, a record that more than doubles the previous high release.

Army Corps: More Rain Could Force Release of More Water from Dam

The top Army officer for the management of the Missouri River says additional rain could force the release of even greater amounts of water from an upstream dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineersalready is releasing a record 150,000 cubic feet of water per second from Gavin's Point dam in South Dakota.

Brig. Gen. John McMahon is commander of the corps' Northwestern Division. He says officials are watching a weather system moving through the upper Missouri River basin. If it dumps a lot of rain, McMahon said, the corps may have to let more water out of Gavin's Point, but he declined to say how much and what the impact would be on downstream flooding.

McMahon was in Jefferson City on Monday to discuss river management with local officials.

Northwest Mo. Town Ordered to Evacuate

Residents of a small northwestern Missouri town have been ordered to evacuate as floodwaters take a toll on levees.

Holt County emergency management officials say the roughly 300 residents of Craig are asked to be out of their homes by noon Tuesday. Craig lies in the Missouri River flood plain.

Officials say water began flowing toward the town Monday after one levee was overtopped and a breach opened in the Big Tarkio River levee near its mouth at the Missouri. A levee in neighboring Andrew County has been stabilized, but officials are concerned about the Missouri backing up into the Nodaway River and creating problems for tiny Nodaway Township.

Farther south, St. Joseph officials said so far the 16-mile levee protecting Rosecrans Memorial Airport is in "good physical condition."

Joplin Council Imposes 60-Day Hold on Permits

Despite pleas from some residents, the Joplin City Council has put a 60-day hold on building permits for new houses in parts of the city damaged by the May 22 tornado.

The city staff had proposed the hold to allow "expedited debris removal" in the most severely damaged neighborhoods. Opponents said the hold would force some people to leave Joplin if they can't start rebuilding their homes. Others questioned why businesses could rebuild but homeowners couldn't.

The Joplin Globe reportsthat City Manager Mark Rohr said safety and financial concerns prompted the hold.

The federal government has agreed to pay 90 percent of the debris removal costs until Aug. 7. If the city has to pay for that work, it would cost residents $3 million a day.

Economists Estimate Millions in Crop Value Lost from Blowing Mississippi River Levee

University of Missouri economists estimate about $85 million in potential crop value lost from blowing out the Birds Point levee on the Mississippi River. The university's Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute said Monday that the economic loss climbs to about $156.7 million when other economic changes are factored in.

FAPRI estimated current-year plantings and potential yields based on U.S. Department of Agriculture records.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew up the Birds Point levee last month to reduce the flooding threat to Cairo, Ill. The levee breach flooded 130,000 acres and damaged or destroyed houses in southeastern Missouri. Scott Brown, an economist with FAPRI, said the study applies to losses for the current year only and does not consider long-term impact or losses to infrastructure.