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In Wake of Historic Flooding, Blunt Calls on Corps to Prioritize Flood Control in River Management

May 02, 2019

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor about recent, historic flooding in Missouri. Blunt called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to re-prioritize flood control and navigation in its river management plan.

In April, Blunt and the Missouri delegation sent a letter urging President Trump to support Governor Parson’s call for a disaster declaration.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Blunt worked to ensure Missouri is eligible for disaster funding included in the emergency funding bill that was introduced in March. Blunt has also cosponsored an amendment to expand aid eligibility for crops that were lost in storage or were prevented from being planted in 2019.

Following Are Exerts from Blunt’s Remarks:

“[W]e have been stuck for some time now on having a appropriations bill that meets the disasters that have occurred recently in Missouri and before that in the Carolinas and Georgia and other places. I want to continue to work hard to get that done, but I want to talk a little bit about the effects of what's happened in the state of Missouri as part of what's happened with floods this spring. We have seen a catastrophic and in some cases historic flooding both on the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers over the last couple of months.

“The governor of Missouri has requested a presidential disaster declaration. I'm certainly for that, and every member of the Missouri delegation signed a letter asking the president to grant that declaration. The assistance that would be impacted by this will be vital. It's important. We need that kind of assistance now and I'm going to continue to work and I hope all our colleagues continue to work to make this year's disasters and last fall's disasters eligible for the funds we appropriate for disaster coverage.

“We have had recurrent historic flooding on the river now for 15 years. Ever since the Corps asked for a new management plan in 2004 and got the new management plan, it just simply doesn't work. At least six of the top ten river crests in recorded history have occurred in the last 15 years. Floods in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 - you see the pattern here, Madam President –2013 and ’19. The only reason we didn't have dramatic floods every year was we had a couple of drought years in there, in 2009 and ’12, and this all goes back to that 2004 management plan.

“So what changed in 2004? In 2004, the Corps started to implement the Missouri River Recovery Program in response to a biological opinion - opinions may be the key word here - a biological opinion from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service that took the position that the existing management of the river was impacting one fish - one species of fish and two species of birds. Now, the ultimate result was prioritizing the management of the entire river to benefit that fish and those birds. It was above flood control. It was above navigation. it didn't consider what was detrimental to families, to farms, or the local infrastructure, and was not necessary.

“Saving wildlife is a worthy goal. But that goal to truly be worthy has to also include how it impacts families, how it impacts people, and how it impacts the economy.”

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