Friday, July 22, 2011

"Why the Flood of 2011 is Different Than Floods of the Past" - by Sen. Bill Stouffer, representing Missouri's District 21

A report from Senator Bill Stouffer on the Flood of 2011
and why it is different than floods of the past

As I write, the floods affecting so much of our area is heavy on my mind. Unlike in 1993, we are not piling sandbags in the rain. Today’s floods are the direct side effect of government gone wild.

Today, boils and seep water have already ruined thousands of acres of crops. And tired levees, not built to withstand weeks of the Big Muddy’s current volume, are at a daily risk of giving way.

Unlike most “natural disasters,” this one could have been avoided. That reality makes this a tougher pill to swallow on neighbors who have homes and livelihoods threatened by the water. Soon, local residents may boat their way alongside the tops of electric poles to find their century farm, while bureaucrats continue to put fish and birds over the needs of everyday Missourians.

The 2011 flood started in late May, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would begin dumping thousands of gallons of water every day at Gavins Point Dam, along the Nebraska-South Dakota border.

On June 1, the Corps was releasing 80,000 cubic feet of water per second. By June 15, the amount nearly doubled to approximately 150,000 cubic feet per second. In addition, the 150,000 cubic feet per second release will continue through August.

There are 7.48 gallons in every cubic foot of water. For a visual, consider the water towers in the local communities of Atlanta, Slater, Waverly, Norborne and Lawson. All that water storage is near the amount the Corps will purposefully release into the river EACH second. Hopefully, by then, the threat will have passed, but the damage will already be done.

Corps officials blamed this year’s flood on the excessive rainfall between May and June, farther upstream. Why the water was not released earlier from these dams is beyond me. And, if cold weather and ice are to blame, appropriate measures should be taken now to invest in proper plans and technology to avoid this from ever happening again.

While many Missourians have been leery about reviewing the way the river is managed, it does not seem it could get much worse. The current management plan that the Corps has in place is also a culprit. Every year, we talk about the spring rise and every year, and there is a clash of ideas between the Corps and just about everybody else.

It is important to note, the federal government is spending $73 million on wildlife restoration, but only $6 million on operations and maintenance of the Missouri River. I do not mind taking care of God’s creation, but putting humans last is no way to operate.

This year’s flooding puts the spotlight on the Corps once again, and a lot more folks are listening than ever before. I am sure a solution will be reached, but it is sad that it will take another prolonged, man-made flood to get something done.