WASHINGTON -- The Army Corps of Engineers does not have enough money in its emergency fund for needed repairs to the nation's flood-protection systems after the Missouri River floodwaters recede, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., told The World-Herald.
Nelson, Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were among senators from seven Missouri River region states to meet with top corps officials Wednesday.
Nelson said he asked the corps if its emergency fund could cover this year's damages.
"The short answer was ‘no,’" Nelson said.
It may be some time before the corps can determine how much money it needs to repair the Midwest's damaged levees, Nelson said, but the corps expects to come back to Congress for those funds.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first of what could be many for the "Missouri River Working Group" of 14 senators from states affected by this year's controlled flooding, including Nebraska and Iowa.
In the past, upriver and downriver states have engaged in heated conflicts over management of the Missouri and its competing purposes, such as recreation and water for barge traffic. But senators leaving the meeting Wednesday described the gathering as calm, even "somber," given the crisis at hand.
"When it comes to flood management and flood prevention and controls, we are all in it together -- from Montana on," Nelson said.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., used the opportunity to pitch his fellow senators on a proposal to help people whose flood insurance policies have been deemed invalid because of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "flood-in-progress" rules.
Other topics included giving flood management greater emphasis in the corps’ river management bible, the master manual, and how the corps plans to weigh adjustments to its dam releases to prevent similar flooding next year.