A U.S. House subcommittee heard testimony this week about river flooding. Tom Waters, Chairman of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, said the flooding is far from over and he wants federal officials to act quickly to get levees repaired.

This is the aerial view of flooding in northwest Missouri taken on March 21, 2019 (photo courtesy of Governor Mike Parson Twitter page)

“We know it’s going to be high – above flood stage – probably through the rest of this summer, fall and into winter. With over 100 levees breached along the Missouri River, flooding is going to continue to be a problem. It’s going to take a long time to recover these levees,” he said.

Waters, a seventh-generation farmer, said the failed experiments must end.

“This was once a highly-engineered system, but over the past 20 years, it’s been used to conduct supersized science experiments for two birds and a fish. These experiments have decimated the flood control system,” he said. “We’ve reached a tipping point and we can no longer continue to conduct failed experiment after failed experiment at the expense of people’s lives and livelihoods. I said lives because people have died.”

Waters thinks the federal government will take several years to rebuild the levees.

Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, whose district cover the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, has been a vocal critic of the federal government’s flood management policies. During this week’s hearing, that was no different.

Congressman Sam Graves

“In 2011, we thought that we had learned our lesson from a historic Missouri River flooding incident. Once again, here we are eight years later and we find ourselves in even worse shape,” said Graves. “From Gavin’s Point dam to the mouth of the Missouri River, we are slated to spend only $13 million on annual levee maintenance. At the same time, we are slated to spend $30.7 million on wildlife reclamation and habitat creation in that same stretch of river.”

Graves, a Republican, said some grounds in his district have been underwater for nearly four months. He said virtually every levee from Iowa to Kansas City overtopped or breached in March, and again in May and June.

“When farmland is flooded for that long, it can be completely covered in sand and in sentiment. What that does it render it unusable for many years,” he said.

Graves thinks the overall costs of this year’s floods will be several billion dollars.

He has released a flood recovery resource guide with information to assist those who are trying to rebuild.

This week, President Donald Trump declared a major federal disaster in 20 Missouri counties damaged by flooding and severe weather since the spring. Federal assistance will be available for individuals with things like temporary housing, repairs, and replacement of household items.

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