Destroying Cairo: Deindustrialized America And Floods

Mark Twain’s Mississippi River: Cairo, Illinois — Images

There has been a bit of news about wether or not the government should blow up some levees next to farmlands or flood Cairo, Ill.  Cairo is a famous frontier town of the 1800’s built soon after the Louisiana Purchase and the New Madrid Earthquake.  It has been repeatedly flooded in the past due to being at the jointure of two major rivers.  This year, the huge meltdown/rains have caused renewed flooding that will rise above the levels of the levees.  Where these break will be either due to Mother Nature’s choosing or the Army Corps of Engineers.

First, a view of the past via this video showing a previous major flood, the 1937 Flood at Cairo Illinois.

We can see from this old film that Cairo was a slowly dying Victorian town even 70 years ago.  This town was well known to Mark Twain as it was the docking point for many steamboats 100+ years ago.  In the 1937 video, you can see briefly a huge paddlewheel boat floating by between a line of trees and the railroad tracks, for example.

Evidently, steamboat captains used Cairo as the northern berth and sleep-over point between New Orleans and the northern river systems.  Also, a major rail junction was in Cairo so goods were moved from boats to rails or back at this point.  Also, this is where the slave/free states collided often rather violently:  Cairo, Illinois – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Cairo was the original destination for Huck and Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as they planned to paddle up the Ohio River to obtain freedom for Jim. However, they sailed past Cairo and ended up in Arkansas instead.

Mark Twain was being sarcastic here.  He was a humanist who was also a humorist.  His younger brother joined him working to become a captain of a steamboat only he was killed when the boiler blew up under decks where he was standing.  The Old Mississippi River has a long  history of bringing life, wealth and power and death, destruction and war.


I used Google Maps to visit Cairo, IL  and the near-total destruction of this once-mighty river junction city is just like viewing say, Detroit or any number of former industrial and trade powerhouse cities in America.  Remember: China is madly building cities and populating them as we destroy our own.

This is a screenshot of the 1937 film showing the same waterfront street back then:

It is obvious that the Great Depression took a big, big bite out of Cairo.  But 70 years of wealth and recovery has brought us this:

As far as downtown is concerned, Cairo is dead.  The roads here are still Victorian bricks which last a long time.  But all is literally falling into ruins.  Passively, we wait for the inevitable end just as the Japanese are accepting the end of much of eastern coastal Japan.  Japan: post-tsunami, town wonders if to rebuild: the sense of resignation and fatalism is very much at work in Japan just as it is here in the US.


Only there isn’t just resignation, there is within the GOP, positive glee that Cairo may be totally and finally annihilated by Mother Nature:  Mo. House Speaker receives criticism, threats for Cairo, Ill. comment


State House Speaker Steve Tilley found himself in hot water this week after saying that he would rather flood an Illinois town than Missouri farmland.


The comment came in response to a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to breach a levee on the Mississippi River in an effort to control floodwaters.


That plan would help ensure that the small town of Cairo, Ill. doesn’t flood, while flooding about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland.


When Tilley was asked Tuesday whether he would rather see Cairo or the farmland underwater, he told reporters, “Cairo. I’ve been there, trust me. Cairo.”


“Have you been to Cairo?” he added. “OK, then you know what I’m saying then.”


Tilley, R-Perryville, has since received threats in response to the comment, and even had a Capitol security guard stationed outside of his office door today as an added precaution.


Responding to the firestorm over his words, Tilley issued a prepared apology.

Here is this young man sneering and laughing as he contemplates finally ridding us of yet another dying city:  YouTube – cairo, IL.
The video is worse than the news story for the interviewer and everyone around him are laughing so much, the Speaker of the House has to repeat his ‘joke’.  They all get the point: the Americans who are ‘Negroes’ will be swept out and gone forever.  Good riddance to them, these guys chortle!
This happened with Katrina: the National Guard was not called out to remove people before the hurricane.  The government wasn’t even going to open up the stadium to protect people.  The hope was, the city would be cleaned out in a rather crude but effective way.  Once the people were drowned or lost their homes, all would be much better.
This attitude is across the board.  There are many people that are removable and thus, if nature steps in and eliminates them, that is for the public good.  This dovetails into the debate about healthcare: these same people that ought to drown quietly are the same ones who are tapping into social services and healthcare.  The GOP finds this repugnant.  They want selective help.  The right sorts of people should be saved whilst the useless people killed.
The flap over the glee the rightwing Republicans display is due to this court case:  Federal judge allows destruction of Mississippi levee | Reuters

U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. ruled that the Corps had the right to breach the levee to prevent flooding in Cairo, Illinois, as permitted by a 1928 law.


The levee breach would flood 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland, which contain about 90 homes. Missouri had filed suit to prevent the Corps from carrying out its plan.


Needless to say, the 90 homes that might be flooded are occupied by white families while most of the homes slated to be destroyed in a flood are black homes filled mainly with families on welfare.  Just like Katrina flooded both white and black communities, the point with that hurricane was, government funds from the Federal tax system was used to help homeowners, mainly whites, rebuild while these same funds were used to tear down even intact public housing for the poor and the poor had to use the money to relocate in other places.  One of which was Cairo, Ill. due to very cheap rents there.


It is now pretty late, the town is drowning already, bit by bit and the Cairo mayor urges voluntary evacuation:


So far, about 100 residents have heeded to the mayor’s request.

I suppose at this point, it won’t matter if the Army Corps of Engineers blow up anything, the rivers are going to flood the plains.  Ever since the New Madrid Earthquake, this area has had some level of subsidence which was so great for a short while, the Mississippi River flowed backwards.  We still have little idea what is going on under our feet in this area.  I suspect the center of the country is falling lower as the continent moves westward.  The geological forces causing this are still poorly understood.  But I suspect geologists will eventually figure out how this dynamic continental subsidence is operating.
Now for some population data which shows clearly why the racists who haunt the GOP are so happy to see the people there lose their homes and have the town vanish forever:  Cairo, Illinois – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 3,632 people, 1,561 households, and 900 families residing in the city. The population density was 515.1 people per square mile (198.9/km²). There were 1,885 housing units at an average density of 103.2 per km² (267.3 per sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 35.93% White, 61.70% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races; 0.74% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.


There were 1,561 households out of which 30.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.3% were married couples living together, 25.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% were non-families. Of all households, 39.7% are made up of individuals and 17.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.08.


The age distribution was 30.4% under 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there were 79.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.2 males.


The median income for a household in the city was $21,607, and the median income for a family was $28,242. Males had a median income of $28,798 versus $18,125 for females. The per capita incomefor the city was $16,220. Of the population as a whole, 33.5% lives below the poverty line, as compared with 27.1% of families. Out of the total population, 47.0% of those under the age of 18 and 20.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Mostly poor, minority, elderly:  useless eaters so far as the Darwinian Red In Tooth And Claw Party.  There is no Tea Party, there is a Survival Of The Niftiest Party.  Anyway, here is a story from just one and a half years ago about this town and a doomed attempt at creating some business downtown there:  Cairo, Illinois: Chris Johnston, Help for Small Town – TIME

At its 1920s peak, Cairo was a boomtown of 15,000 people. But as river trade declined, so did Cairo. In the 1960s and ’70s, the town was engulfed in racial turmoil: white residents formed vigilante groups, while Cairo’s black population waged a three-year boycott of businesses that refused to integrate. What’s left, after decades of white flight and economic stagnation, is an expanse of abandoned buildings, bulldozed lots and forgotten history….In October, the group opened the Ace of Cups coffee shop and bookstore — the first new business to launch in Cairo in four years. The windows are adorned with posters, and on the door is a carefully scripted sign in black Sharpie that reads “We Are Not For-Profit.” Inside, the brightly painted walls are lined with stacks of used books. Johnston had invited friends to come and work at the coffee shop in exchange for free rent but got few takers. “A lot of people shook on it and then backed out,” he explains. “A friend of mine basically told me, ‘I want to live in a place that already has nice things,’ as opposed to this plan of building nice things, which is what we’re doing.”


If we visit this business’s Home page for Ace of Cups Coffee we see it was a very brief experiment.  They did try to sell it.  Here is a photo of the shop:  ‘My War On Indifference’ by David W. Aubrey: “Ace of Cups,” Cairo, IL
Breezing around the net, I found some postings by the young, idealistic couple that bought this coffee shop.
It is a sad story.  Evidently, looters attacked the store.


Thanks to everyone who was so nice to us down in Cairo. Things have taken a turn south. Looks like 3 central air units were stolen and ransacked from the building. While visiting, there was another fire.


What really astounds me, is Chris, the current owner of the building came into Cairo wanting to help, and this is the thanks he gets. Not only did they steal all the units from Chris’s building, they stole them from the soup kitchen also.


Mary, the nun at the soup kitchen informed me that they will close now in the heat of the summer, because they can not afford to replace the central air unit that was stolen.


So to the ingrates who stole it all, remember this. There will come a time when there is nothing left to steal, your out of drugs and hungry.


Enjoy this moment.

You made it happen.


As for Diana and myself, we are heartbroken.




We are supposed to close March 7th, we gave 1000 bucks earnest, and all ready transfered the rest of the money to Capala bank, but honestly, we are getting afraid, and have second thoughts. I am going back tonight and having a friend stay in the building until closing. If we decide to buy, at least nothing else will be missing or damaged, the back door hinges are being messed with, and if they keep on prying the back doors unless something is done or someone is there to call the cops or shoot them they will get back in. The real estate agent notified me today that we are not legally bound to have to buy it now.


Honestly ms/mr sorry, I could not work in 100 degree summer days with the high humidity Cairo gets, let alone knowing that the person I am making it for may have stolen from me. Mary is a better person than me for sure, I could not do it with or without air.


Sorry mr/ms sorry if I sound digruntled, I’m only angry at the theives. I drove all the way back here because Diana has to work, but I’m going back there tonight to “install” my friend in the front window. I may be down there for a couple of days, if you see the green van and the doggie in the window stop in and say hi.



They pretty much gave up after really, really trying.  I used to renovate neighborhoods for a living.  We did this to make money and I did succeed in this.  But there has to be an economic base to work off of and this is what angers me the most: it is vanishing under our feet!  My small town of Berlin, NY, which was thriving when I bought property here, is slowly losing its economic footing and falling off the cliff.
As businesses leave due to world free trade policies bringing in cheap imports, as people lose jobs, as oil becomes very expensive, very fast, the town is shrinking.  Poorer and poorer families move in due to cheaper and cheaper rents but they have no jobs and aren’t even bothering to look.  They are looking for cheap living so they can survive on welfare that doesn’t keep up with inflation of food and fuel.
Only we have severe, very cold winters here. So people don’t want to move here since heating eats up huge amounts of money!  Cairo has kept crawling along just out of the grave by soaking up welfare families seeking cheaper and cheaper rents because it does get cold there but not as cold as here. But even so, it is too cold for too long for declining incomes vis a vis rising fuel prices.
So even as a haven for the poor, Cairo is doomed.  The death of Berlin, NY, or of Detroit or Cairo, is no joke.  It isn’t funny.  It isn’t a good thing.   It is like laughing at cancer.  The idea that if we trap the poor between many rocks and hard places, they will vanish, is childish and ultimately, cruel.  In my town, people are fighting terrible battles with each other over what to do next.  Any moves in any direction needing public spending is being shot down by desperate families who fear even more taxes while their incomes fall.
Many such incomes are Social Security so of course, these people vote for Republicans who plan to kill SS.  This odd response is only possible if there is this coded message from the GOP that once SS and welfare and heating aid is killed, these will be restored to any whites who survive the Great Die Off.
And that seems to be the plan!  To kill off the unwanted.  And then all will be well since the government will then resume running social programs again.  At least, this is the hidden message.  Which is a lie, of course.  There is no plans to keep white retirees alive.  Why on earth do that if it costs the top 1% even a smidgen of their accumulations of vast wealth?  Of course, they want it all!  Infinity or death!
As a reminder of where things are going in China:  Group wedding held at Tsinghua University
The Chinese lived in hell under Madame Mao.  She hated beautiful things, she hated sex, she hated everyone and was very destructive.  She tried to destroy beauty itself.  The Chinese are quite romantic again and have embraced parts of our older, Victorian ideology/cultural systems thus, this group wedding with everyone dressed as if it is 1890 again.  quite lovely.  This was the proletarian answer to the British Royal wedding.
Only, these are actually the new Middle Class of China which is feeling the pangs of love and desire.  They are filled with hope and not giving up like their neighbors nearby to the east.  By pooling public resources, they had a fancy wedding with 200 couples saying, ‘I do’ and this is a practical solution due to the costs of private weddings.   I find this all rather amusing.  The US is wracked over the issue of should gay people be allowed to marry at the same time working class couples are not getting married due to the high social costs they would be stuck with if the mothers don’t go on welfare as soon as possible.
How funny is that?  And this is why cutting welfare is seen as a solution for the GOP, not the Chinese solution of improving lives so people desire marriage and see it as a good thing, not a bad thing!

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22 responses to “Destroying Cairo: Deindustrialized America And Floods

  1. CK

    Feel sorry for stupid? At least the farmland is producing something, the town is a wasteland. So Cairo Ill becomes a ghost town, it has happened before it will happen elsewhere again. Places that have no reason for existing seldom exist for long.
    As for the stupids with their coffee shop/used book store, serving a welfare community of less than 3000 people, they would have been better served to just drive down mainstreet throwing fivers out the window and then moving on to someplace alive. Doing that would not have given them the superiority tinglies — but would have been a more efficient way to throw away their money.

  2. CK

    “For every 100 females there were 79.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.2 males.”
    A superfluous 30% females. Wonder why that is? From the numbers quoted, the boys die, move away alone, enlist before they are 18 or are incarcerated. Whatever is the root cause, the competetion among the females 18 and over for the few remaining males must make Cairo a fun place for the guys.

  3. emsnews

    If you read carefully, you would have noticed my stuff about how welfare families relocate to these sorts of places due to them being very, very cheap. These people tend to be women which children, of course.

    Where are the men? America has the biggest prison system of any nation. Go look over there.

  4. You are right about the top 1% wanting everything for themselves. These days the GOP is stoking age wars by promising to keep SS and Medicare intact for those currently over 55. Of course, I am not in that group!

    But they also intend not to raise the debt ceiling, even if it means the govt defaults on its debt (which it will — War Department spending and tax cuts for the rich take prec edence over even interest payments on the debt). Once the debt ceiling is reached and the treasury cannot beg, borrow or steal money other than the tax stream, the same GOP will say to these same retirees and workers over 55: “Sorry, but we have to eliminate SS and Medicare to bail out the too big to fail Uncle Sam!”

    Mind you, this was all predicted back in 1959 in Mike Wallace’s interview with Ayn Rand, patron saint of the GOP.

  5. aussie

    @ CK
    Re: Feel sorry for stupid?…

    I don’t agree with your sentiments.
    The stupid poor stealing bread and pockets to survive during the reign of the British Empire became convicts when Australia was occupied some two hundred years ago.
    Now the sons and daughters of the same stupid convicts became our leaders and people of high culture.

    When Singapore was a swamp during the same era were populated by stupid poor Chinese from Southern China and stupid Malay peasants.
    Now they built a nation from an island without natural resources and farms into a 21st century wealthy metropolis with a standard of living greater than Australia and the US.

    The people you loath simply did not posses the opportunities and value systems to succeed.
    It is not a matter of intelligence and drive but access to opportunities and supporting culture to empower them.

    How do you explain the ability of, say, a descendant of former headhunters in Borneo becoming a University lecturer?
    Her heritage was derided as barbaric primitive people yet now easily compares favorably with her peers in the West?

    How do you describe wealthy Wall Street and Washingtonian “blue bloods” with “Princeton and Harvard” education doing stupid things to their own country and people?

  6. wellwell

    Elaine, what you’re saying here is corrosively cynical, but in our post-millenial looking glass world, it is unfortunately true. The most distressing thing about America right now is that so many people carry around extermination lists in their heads, comprising those individuals and groups they’d like to see wiped off the face of the earth. Nonething else can explain the success of today’s crypto-fascist GOP.

  7. emsnews

    All depressions feature people walking around with extermination lists in their fists as well as heads. This is why mass deaths are the natural outcome of economic contractions.

    This, in turn, is why we should avoid these events. This means curbing greed during bubbles. Avoiding bubbles is easy: when something suddenly grows so fast, it seems to be heading to infinity, it is a bubble and must be terminated fast.

    No one wants to do this because bubbles are fun. Australia’s housing bubble is popping now, for example. They can see clearly what happens next but won’t be able to see it until it slams into everyone.

    It is very sad, watching this unfold. The US is torn in several key ways along race and class lines. The rich have basically removed themselves from our system in a number of ways EXCEPT POLITICAL. There, the control is growing, not shrinking.

    Typically, when people are frustrated and angry, the rich prefer race wars along ethnic lines. In this matter, the Zionist community is playing a very dangerous game.

    You see, once the stateless illegals are removed or killed, then the blacks will be destroyed along with Obama, of course, and then comes the looting of some minority with money which is, of course, the Jewish community.

    The Zionist/Christian End of Times alliance will suddenly end when the Christians need someone to loot and this dovetails with their desire for Jesus to come and clean up all infidels and one of these infidel groups is, of course, the Jews.

    This depresses me greatly because it is so easy to see coming. Why the Jewish community refuses to see the final end of all of this baffles me, it is so very obvious to anyone who talks to right wing Christians.

  8. @Elaine: The Zionist/Christian End of Times alliance will suddenly end when the Christians need someone to loot and this dovetails with their desire for Jesus to come and clean up all infidels and one of these infidel groups is, of course, the Jews.

    And I can see the end beyond that…

    Christian Endtimers + extermination lists in their heads + 9,600 US nukes = great big OMG.

    And that is just putting it mildly in popular lingo!

  9. emsnews

    We see from all civil wars (Libya being the latest example but then there is General Sherman’s march to the sea!) involve leveling whole cities.

  10. melponeme_k

    We all just follow the same script over and over again. The reasons may vary but the actions are the same. It doesn’t even matter if the society is different. It happened during the Egyptian empire, the Roman empire and so on.

    Why don’t we learn? What is the element that keeps us from seeing the well trod rut?

  11. CK

    The “stupids” I was referencing were the fools that thought that opening a non-profit coffee shop/used books store in the middle of Cairo Illinois was a “good thing®”, that would lead to the re-industrialization of a dead wide spot in the road.

  12. Aussie

    @ CK
    Re: The “stupids” I was referencing were the fools…

    I apologize for misconstruing your intent and implied “political correctness”.

  13. What in heaven’s name is it with asians and these huge mass weddings? Remember when that asian cult leader, Sun Moon, got 60,000 married at once. I wonder how many are still together? Is it an asiatic trait to have someone else dictate your life choices? Maybe Japanese leaders should pick up on this, since no one there seems interested in getting married.

  14. CK

    Mass weddings reduce the cost to the individuals getting married.
    Group discount on the Preacher
    Group discount at the honeymoon hotel
    It helps explain why the orientals have actual assets derived from saved effort, while western folks have either debts from their receptions/bachelor blowouts/honeymoons or increased taxes to pay for someone elses Royal screw allowance.

  15. Marva

    I grew up in this area. Parents both were employed in Cairo area during the 50s through 80s (retired). As a children, we relished heading down to Cairo to spend our allowances. Sadly, whites with money refused to integrate–after the rest of the country had already done so (late 60s, early 70s). Even drained swimming pool to avoid integration. Many still segregate themselves from “welfare” families, not all of which is true. Also, set up a “Christian”–whites only school to avoid integration and many of their children, grandchildren graduate and go on to Ole Miss. So forgive me if I sound a bit terse, but it amazes me how Christians can so easily turn their heads away from the poor and sing of God’s glory in church every Sunday. Is Cairo a wreck? Yes! But there are many great children there, honor students and those who are simply going to school who are so sadly affected by this tragedy. I wonder how those who find these people to be so easily disposable would react if they met a similarly horrific fate.

  16. emsnews

    Thanks, Marva. Cairo is in a difficult financial and historical vortex. As are many, many towns across the country. My little town of Berlin, NY, is now tearing itself apart at the seams thanks to many businesses suddenly disappearing here when full ‘free trade’ sucked them out.

    Now, the remaining people fight over school taxes and cutting services we need to exist. Might as well let the town die, is the ultimate result. Our town is as old as the US.

    Losing it this way is insane. Across the nation, we are losing older towns this way.

  17. corbett upton

    We stopped in Cairo when having trouble with the driveline on our motorhome about 10 years ago. It was a beautiful place. I was wondering what part the economic boycott played in the towns demise or did it merely accelerate the inevitable?

  18. James

    Wow, you are very racist. Your statements show how racist you are against white conservatives, the GOP and Tea Party. Economically and socially it would be the best thing to buy out Cairo and let mother nature take it’s course.

    Sometimes it is best to let things die naturally or at least die humanely. The fate of Cairo is not a white or black thing, not a Republican or Democrat thing. Either the city supports itself and is viable or it needs to be destroyed. The humane thing is to move the people to cities with jobs and good schools.

  19. emsnews

    Moving people to where? Detroit? Try buying housing in Manhattan! The best housing is in the DC suburbs where our politicians and bureaucrats all live. Do they want the people of Cairo?

  20. Dupree

    Sir Oswald Moseley said it best:

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