General Question

Nullo's avatar

Flood the town, or flood the farms?

Asked by Nullo (21934points) May 21st, 2011

Recent rainfall forced a choice: save a small town in Illinois by blowing up a levee in Missouri (flooding some hundred thousand acres of farmland and the houses therein), or save the farmland (and for future post-readers, this time of year, there’s stuff growing in the fields) by keeping the levee intact, but exposing the small Illinois town to the floodwaters.

The decision has already been made, but what would you have chosen to do?

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16 Answers

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Flood the House and Senate. Let’s see how they would react to a disaster of that magnitude.

No one who has not been through a disaster knows the great impact that it has on people, property and the human spirit.

That’s the best answer I can give…because the two options were both fairly horrible for all involved.

jrpowell's avatar

Flood the farmland.

I’m not really bothered by either. It isn’t like people are waking up in the middle of the night while half their house falls into a river. People have had enough time to pack up the valuable stuff and get to higher ground.

JLeslie's avatar

Here is my question on the same. There was a few very interesting answers about the particular farmland being flooded.

jaytkay's avatar

It was a ridiculously easy choice. Evacuate a few hundred people or evacuate thousands.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You live near a river. Rivers flood. Man puts up levees to help control the flooding, but man is, well, man. Flood the farms. You need lots of flat space for water to go.

everephebe's avatar

Which small town?
Says a small town Illinois resident.

jaytkay's avatar

You live near a river. Rivers flood.

The interviews of evacuees I have heard say pretty much that. They like living along the river, they understand there will be floods.

incendiary_dan's avatar

It’s easier to evacuate people than to evacuate landscapes and crops. Let the town flood.

filmfann's avatar

Anyone who has seen, or smelled New Orleans would flood the farms.
Yes, this may have a cost in crops for a few seasons, but nothing like the destruction and wreckage of peoples homes.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Just in case anyone wasn’t aware, there’s also a worldwide food crisis going on. Lots of droughts and fires and such, on top of general desertification of croplands due to unsustainable agricultural practices resulting in decreased productivity. A couple states already have reported that this past year has been the driest it’s been since the dustbowl. Something to consider.

everephebe's avatar

Wait @incendiary_dan there’s no food shortage though. There is a major food distribution issue but not a shortage.

jaytkay's avatar

Just in case anyone wasn’t aware, there’s also a worldwide food crisis going on.

Quantify the crops lost to this flood and their impact on worldwide food supplies, please.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Google “Food Crisis 2011”. There’ve been a ton of articles about it, some better than others. When I get onto another computer, and if I remember to, I can dig up some of them that I liked. Sure, problems are caused by food distribution systems, but that doesn’t change the fact that global production is also declining.

As far as quantifying it? This article says roughly 300,000 acres being affected, and roughly ¾ of a million dollars lost from a 1,000 acre farm. That’s about $225 million dollars lost. Can anyone find out how much in dollars or in pounds was produced last year? My google-fu just keeps coming up with articles about reduced production and contributing factors (drought, phosphorous shortages, wildfires, bee-deaths etc.), but not clear numbers.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Another thing I’ve been considering is whether or not this flooding on the farmland would bring in needed nutrients, meaning more plentiful and nutritious crops next year, or if it would just being in industrial pollutants.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Rivers require natural riparian corridors to naturally manage flooding.

skfinkel's avatar

Flood the farm land. It is in the flood plain, and the water and what it’s carrying in the way of nutrients will be good for the earth.

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