-Brent Martin contributed to this report.
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt surveyed flood damage in Atchison and Holt Counties Friday and like, the governor, took aim at the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages its rivers and reservoirs.
“For more than 15 years, I have said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ river management plan is not the right plan for Missouri. After seeing the damage today, it is clear that plan needs to be looked at. The Corps should be prioritizing flood control, navigation, and drinking water. Environmental concerns are a part of that discussion, but the priority should always be on protecting people and property.”
Governor Mike Parson is also outspoken about flood prevention and says he will meet with the governors of Iowa and Nebraska to ready their questions for the Corps.
“What is the management of the river, what’s changed here, why are we having these floods?” he asks.
John Remus, chief of Missouri River Basin Water Management for the Corps told Missourinet a week ago the current focus on the mainstem of the Missouri is flood control.
“Situations where we have high runoff or an event like this, flood control is all we operate for and in fact on the mainstem dams we have done no operations for anything but flood control since March 15th of 2018,” Remus said in a press briefing.
Missourinet contacted the Corps’ public affairs office for additional comment on non-disaster management and policy. We have gotten no response to date.
Meanwhile, farmers and displaced residents are apprehensive.
Brent Martin, KFEQ News Director has been in the field in Northwest Missouri since the flooding began. Yesterday, he spoke with county commissioners who are “fearful that there’s more water coming and these levees are already broken and they are not going to be fixed, probably within two years.”
“It’s a real disaster in Atchison County, especially from I-29 to the river,” according to North District County Commissioner Richard Burke, “And that’s basically everything in the flood plain in Atchison County. That takes in 70,000 acres.”
The United States Department of Agriculture UnderSecretary Bill Northey is also focusing on recovery after touring the area Thursday. He told Martin in an interview that he was not prepared for the scope of the damage
“It’s just mind-boggling to be able it in person, how much water there is and how much water has to get off of here to eventually make this land such that they can get out there and get some planting done,” says Northey, a former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.