First floodwaters washed over Holt County. Now, tax dollars are drying up. Floodwaters still cover large sections of farmland in northwest Missouri, more than a month after the Missouri River exceeded its banks and caused widespread flooding in northwest Missouri.

Flooded fields in northwest Missouri (Courtesy of KFEQ)

Holt County Commissioner Carla Markt says it will take a long time for the county to return to normal. She says farmers have begun to plant in the hilly part of the county, but floodwaters still cover a lot of bottom ground.

“And then the rest of it is saturated with water,” Markt tells Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph. “So, until that all drains out of there and goes back into the river, that’s what our situation is and we’re looking at farmers not being able to farm in that bottom this year, at all.

An empty I-29 after MoDOT closed the interstate due to heavy damage to it just across the state line in Iowa.

Lost tax revenue from empty farm fields would be bad enough, but Holt and Atchison Counties as well as Andrew County are suffering financially for something happening in Iowa. The Missouri Department of Transportation has closed Interstate 29 to through traffic, because the flood heavily damaged the interstate just across the state line, shutting it down.

Traffic might just pass through those counties to other destinations, but that traffic brings in needed sales tax revenue for rural counties which rely on it.

An empty I-29 after MoDOT closed the interstate due to heavy damage to it just across the state line in Iowa. (Courtesy of KFEQ)

“It’s closed down, will be closed down for quite a while now, yet. And we’re losing out on those tax dollars,” Markt says about I-29’s closure. “It’s all very important to our schools and our roads and everything that we support as a county.”

A disaster aid package which could help offset some of the losses has stalled in Congress as Democrats press for more money to be allocated to Puerto Rico still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria which devastated the island in 2017.

Markt says those in the area cannot expect Congress to understand the devastation flooding has caused, without becoming advocates for recovery. She doesn’t hold out much hope that Congress understands the situation.

“No, I don’t think Congress will reach out to us at all about our situation,” Markt says. “It will be our duty, as individuals, to reach out to them and educate them about our situation.”

Markt says she would like to host members of Congress and give them a tour of the flood damage. She has floated the idea of northwest Missouri officials compiling a small booklet to mail to members of Congress, explaining and illustrating the devastation left behind by the Missouri River flood.

By Brent Martin of Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph