Governors in Missouri River corridor assess progress after 2019 flooding

OMAHA — The governors of Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas say they’re finding progress in flood prevention efforts in the Missouri River corridor.

According to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, levee maintenance and making structures as flood resilient as possible are key. “Instead of waiting for that disaster to hit like in 2019,” Reynolds said Thursday, “and then we have no money, no money, no money and then we have a bunch of money come in and then we’re fixing the same highway structures, the same ag impact that we did prior to that.”

Reynolds and the governors of the other three states met yesterday in Omaha. Reynolds said the design and structural performance of 900 miles of Missouri River levees are being evaluated. “Then grants will be available to the different levee districts to get the levees where they need to be,” Reynolds said.

Nearly all the levee districts lack the resources to make significant improvements and government funding is necessary, Reynolds said.

Reynolds and the other Missouri River governors began meeting in the midst of the devasting floods of 2019 and Reynolds said their main frustration at the time was the pace of the response from federal agencies.

“We tend to study things to death instead of moving forward and getting things done,” Reynolds said, “and we’ve seen a lot of progress since that first meeting in 2019 and the way that we’re doing things.”

In the spring of 2019, melting snow and rainfall combined to cause the Missouri River to jump its banks and quickly flood vast swaths of western Iowa.