Advisory group urges better flood protection in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s levees need to be strengthened and repaired, especially in rural areas hit hard by prolonged flooding in 2019, according to an advisory group appointed by Gov. Mike Parson.
St. Louis Public Radio reported that the Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group on Tuesday released its report on ways to address flooding in the state and improve flood recovery. Parson signed an executive order in July creating the 24-member advisory group.
Record flooding early last year and in the summer overtopped and breached dozens of levees along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Some parts of western Missouri experienced flooding for up to seven months.
Rebuilding in flood-prone areas has led to repeated damage, said Dru Buntin, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
“What the group has tried to look at is based on what we’ve seen in these large floods, whether it’s 2011, 1993 or this past year. Where are we seeing those problem areas?” Buntin said.
The advisory group includes officials from state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, along with levee district officials and representatives from agriculture and the navigation industry.
The group found that state and federal agencies should support levee district projects aimed at reducing constriction of the river during floods. For example, it supports Atchison County’s efforts in northwest Missouri to move levees further back from the Missouri River.
The group recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers repair breached levees to help ease the costs for farmers paying crop insurance. Members also suggested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency extend the dates for determining premium rates on the 2020 growing season.
The group’s report also suggested that officials consider alternative flood control strategies, such as buying frequently flooded properties.
Environmental groups have also advocated for efforts such as restoring wetlands to reconnect rivers to the floodplain. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment is among those that have complained that the working group does not include scientists or someone to provide a conservation perspective.
The advisory group will release a final report in May.