Some northwest Missouri flood victims have received no federal disaster assistance…and a few who did receive assistance have been asked to return the money. Congressman Sam Graves of Tarkio says it has become a big problem, stemming from the fact that there is a 15-day gap between the two presidential disaster declarations issued after the mid-March and late May floods. Graves says the Missouri Congressional delegation is working to convince FEMA to cover all flood victims, no matter when the flooding occurred.

Congressman Sam Graves

“We sent a delegation letter just last week,” Graves tells Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph. The entire Missouri delegation is unified on this – Democrats and Republicans – to get this fixed. And so we’re working on that. We’re trying to get that solved.”

Graves says the Missouri delegation wants FEMA to revisit those cases.

“When you have water moving down south from significant rain events, you can’t pick and choose what day your levy is going to break and what’s going to happen,” he says. “It’s still a flood. It’s still a disaster.”

A report surfaced late last week that FEMA demanded a $12,000 assistance check to a flood victim in Craig be returned, because the agency determined his flood damage didn’t meet federal disaster guidelines. Graves says FEMA has been rigid and hard-nosed in their assessment of flood damage. He says FEMA needs to be more sensitive to residents who have lost everything.

Missouri’s battered and broken levee system along the Missouri River is slowly being repaired. Graves says widespread flooding this year did incredible damage.

“We’re seeing dirt being moved. We’re seeing holes being closed,” says Graves. “It’s happening. It’s just the sheer amount of devastation that we had and the number of levee breaches that we have had on the Missouri River from Omaha south to Kansas City is just overwhelming.”

Graves says work on some levees must wait until the Missouri River level drops low enough to fully assess the damage. The Army Corps of Engineers has been reducing water releases from Gavins Point Dam, preparing for lower releases during the winter. That has allowed the Missouri River to drop enough to be below flood stage for the first time since March.

By Brent Martin of Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph