Flood Recovery and the Future of Missouri River Management

Straight Talk with Sam

Recent flooding along the Missouri River has devastated communities, destroyed homes, and ruined farms. For some, the recovery process is just starting to begin—others are still waiting for the floodwaters to recede. Ultimately, this is going to be a long rebuilding process. Right now, we are still working to make sure those affected by flooding receive the resources needed to rebuild. It is my hope that we learn from this disaster and make the changes necessary to put families, farms, and communities first when it comes to managing the Missouri River.

Yesterday, Governor Mike Parson formally requested a federal disaster declaration for 13 counties—including Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Carroll, Chariton, Holt, and Platte counties. Shortly thereafter, I joined the rest of Missouri’s congressional delegation in sending a letter to President Trump advocating for swift approval of the disaster declaration request.

If the declaration is approved, those counties would be eligible to receive federal assistance for roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. Individuals in some of those North Missouri counties could also potentially receive assistance. The disaster declaration is still awaiting approval from President Trump. I will continue working to make sure our families and communities in North Missouri receive the help we need.

On Tuesday, I met with Missouri River stakeholders in St. Joseph to discuss the impact of recent flooding and how we move forward from here. I was joined by County Commissioners from Atchison, Holt and Buchanan counties, city officials from St. Joseph as well as folks from Missouri Farm Bureau, the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, Missouri Corn Growers, PortKC, the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee, the 139th Airlift Wing, and the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, among others.

We all recognized that the persistent flooding we have seen for the last several years cannot continue. Reducing the flooding occurrences will require the Army Corps of Engineers to quit doing what they’ve done the past 15 years. Solutions proposed during our discussion included prioritizing flood control, removing fish and wildlife from the Missouri River authorized purposes, limiting habitat reclamation programs, increasing upland flood storage and improving navigation. All these concerns are deeply intertwined with the persistent flooding we have seen over the last decade and a half on the Missouri.

The bottom line is we need to change our priorities when it comes to managing the Missouri River and I am committed to doing just that. Together, I am confident we can rebuild in the wake of this flood, just as we did in 2011. This time, I am hopeful we can finally change the river management practices that have increased the occurrence and severity of flooding along the Missouri over the last 15 years.


Sam Graves