Farmers weigh in on expert’s report on Corps

Missouri farmers weigh in on an expert panel’s report about how the Army Corps of Engineers handled this year’s Missouri River flooding. Blake Hurst is president of the Missouri Farm Bureau – Richard Oswald is president of Missouri Farmers Union. Both men farm in northwest Missouri – an area of the state hit hard by flooding.

Hurst says farmers are concerned that the report doesn’t hold the Corps responsible .

“We up here would have liked to have seen the Corps handle this better than they did,” Hurst tells Brownfield, “We’re a little bit upset that the experts the Corps chose have decided the Corps did as best as they could. I’m hopeful, though, that people will pay attention to the recommendations in the report, several of which are good.”

Among the expert’s recommendations are for the Corps to use more relevant weather data. The Corps used run-off and rainfall records going back 114 years. Hurst says there’s been a change in weather patterns and the Corps needs to emphasize that when they start planning for next year.

“Instead of valuing whatever happened (weather-wise) in 1910 at the same value that they value what happened in 2011, they need to put more emphasis in what’s happened to us in the last 10 years,” says Hurst, “I’ve got friends and neighbors, especially down in Holt County, that have been flooded four out of the last five years.”

Richard Oswald, who lost his home and farm for four months to the flooding in in Atchison County because of the ill-timed water releases up north, tells Brownfield, “We’ll never know if the flood was totally avoidable.”

But, Oswald says, “We do know that a better response from the Corps could have saved billions in lost crops, jobs, personal property, and even top soil washed down the river by flooding that went 2 and a half times beyond the established biblical norm of 40 days and nights.”

The study says the Corps had adequately planned for the snow melt. But the record rainfalls in May over a wide area of the basin overloaded the system.

Panel spokesman Neil Grigg says flood control space was 53% occupied after the snow melt – but then record rains hit in the spring.

“If no further heavy run-off had occurred, then this large flood that you saw would not have occurred,” Griggs says.

Policy revisions need to be made by the Corps, says Griggs,  “It’s true that more flood storage and earlier releases could have reduced the impact of the flood, but the (Corps) Master Manual would have to be revised to allow for this.”

Grigg says improved forecasting is a key to avoiding a repeat of the 2011 Missouri River flooding. Grigg is an infrastructure engineering expert from Colorado State University.

Richard Oswald says he IS pleased that Congress has appropriated several Billion dollars for repairs – because levees, roads and infrastructure in his area were decimated by the flooding.

~Missourinet contributed to this report~


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