Located at the very southern tip of Illinois, Cairo (they pronounce it CAY-roh here) is at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers in an area we call Little Egypt. Though the place is no stranger to flooding, it’s been an epic year. A dismal, worst-in-recorded-history kind of year. Right now the rivers are up at about 60.75 feet, and though there are walls built to hold it back, it’s clear that creative solutions might be necessary to keep the water out. This week, the Army Corps of Engineers decided, in an effort to keep Cairo above water, to blow holes in some of the nearby levees in order to redirect flood water to farmland. Understandably, farmers are not happy with this.
I’ve been to Cairo. Sadly, it’s been downhill ride there ever since shipping by river lost out to rail a long, long time ago. The streets were practically vacant when I arrived to complete a Chicago magazine assignment to photograph the Illinois stretch of the Mississippi river. I suppose it didn’t help much that it was raining, but I guess I did get a chance to photograph Cairo in its natural habitat.