Three governors feeling the pain of major flooding recently are calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change its management of the Missouri River. The governors of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa met Wednesday in Iowa with Corps and Federal Emergency Management officials to talk about growing flooding problems. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Council Bluffs, Governor Mike Parson says something needs to change.
“For far too long, we’ve had these incidents occur and we’ve had meeting after meeting, but it seems to be the same results all the time. I think it’s time that we need some straight up answers from the Corps of Engineers of how they’re managing the river,” says Parson.
Northwest and southeast Missouri have especially been hit hard by recent flooding. Parson has made a couple of trips to northwest Missouri to view the damage. About half of Nebraska has been devastated by flood waters.
“First of all, we’ve got to find out just kind of what happened. I think we are still looking for those answers,” says Parson. “But more importantly, what can we do in the short-term and what can we do in the long-term. We’re still not out of the woods yet. We still have got water coming out, snow melt and ice coming out, plus spring rains that could really affect us.”
Parson, a Republican, says the management of the river is key to the citizens of each state.
“When you look at the states that are involved here of the Missouri River, it has a huge impact on the United States of what it is we do,” Parson says. “We are totally dependent on the management of those rivers for a lot of reasons. When you talk about that livelihood, that economic development side of it, it is really centered around the management of the rivers. That affects every one of us and the people of our states and the economy of our states. That’s really how important this is.”
He says there need to be other solutions to prevent further flooding issues.
“You look at the reservoir situation. Can we have more reservoir space to be able to handle this water that we know is going to be coming here every year? Can we build maybe more levees,” asks Parson. “But I think more importantly, does the state take more of an active role in these decisions instead of just leaving it up to one agency? I think the states will have to take more of a role in the management of the river and the Corps is going to have to work with us from a different perspective of what we’ve done than in the past.”
Last Friday, Parson signed an executive order giving the Missouri Department of Natural Resources some flexibility in easing requirements during and after recent Missouri flooding.
He says river management needs to get back to the basics by prioritizing flooding and safety.
Travel problems prevented the governor of Kansas from attending the gathering, but she plans to be part of the next meeting in three weeks.
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