Governors from three states insisted Wednesday that states affected by Missouri River flooding have more input with the Army Corps of Engineers.
The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri met with corps officials and then held a press conference in which they demanded input because, they said, the current system has failed.
Missouri River overflows in recent years, and intense flooding last month, compelled the governors — Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Mike Parson of Missouri — to call the problem a regional dilemma on which they must work together to influence Missouri River management.
Among the possibilities, they said, may be changing federal laws on Missouri River management; shortening the time it takes to get a permit for levee changes; more reservoir capacity upstream; more levees; higher levees; better innovation; and improved levee materials.
“If we had this in place, maybe Offutt doesn’t get flooded,” Ricketts said of changes in general. The governors weren’t harshly critical of the corps and said they want to collaborate with the federal agency.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly intended to join the meeting at the Council Bluffs Police Department but had travel difficulties, Reynolds said.
The governors said they are beginning to create short- and long-term plans. But they have to look at the flooding problem as regional partners, they said, because what might help one state could hurt another.
They said they want more — or at least some — input in decisions affecting the Missouri River. Asked if they have had input up to now, Parson said: “We are having impact today. I don’t know about yesterday.”
Reynolds said the region endured flooding in 2011 and overflows to a lesser degree in following years, but 2019 caused extensive damage. And, she said, states such as Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas can’t continue to go through this.
Ricketts said: “We have to do something different along the river.”
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People watch from the Huron Street bridge as water from Willow Creek flows just under bridge in Missouri Valley, Iowa on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
The junction of Highway 275 and Highway 91 is flooded on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 just north of Scribner, Nebraska.
Cody Stump walks through a flooded street in Hooper, Nebraska, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
High water rolls through a street in Hooper, Nebraska, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
High water floods a street in Hooper, Nebraska, near a trailer park on March 13.
High water floods a street in Hooper, Nebraska, near an old bank building on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
Standing water from melting snow and rain reflects the evening sky as a truck travels north on Highway 275 near Fremont, Nebraska, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
Crews from the Ashland, Mead and Yutan Fire and Rescue assist with evacuating the final residents in Ashland, Nebraska om Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Crews from the Ashland, Mead and Yutan Fire and Rescue assist with evacuating the final residents in Ashland, Nebraska Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Keith Bell surveys the water levels as floodwaters continue to rise near Salt Creek in Ashland, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Sean Hanger, of Ashland and his son Aiden, navigate the floodwaters which continue to rise near Jack Anderson Ball Park in Ashland, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Floodwaters continue to rise as mailboxes are consumed near Furnas Street and N. 15th Street in Ashland, Nebraska, Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Residents are rescued from a flooded area near Missouri Valley, Iowa on Thursday March 14, 2019.
Jenna Muntz stands behind a row of sandbags as she takes a photo of the rising floodwaters in Cedar Creek, Nebraska on Thursday, March 14, 2019.
A semitrailer truck that tried crossing Bell Creek in Arlington, Nebraska, was swept off the road by fast moving floodwaters.
Both Iowa and Nebraska were hit hard by flooding earlier this year and are in need of the disaster aid. Bell Creek, on the east side of Arlington, Nebraska flooded parts of the town on Thursday, March 14.
Blake Japp pulls his remote control truck out of the water while playing in the shallow floodwaters of Bell Creek on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Arlington, Nebraska.
Bell Creek, on the east side of Arlington, Nebraska flooded parts of the town on March 14.
People navigate over giant chunks of ice that were thrown by floodwaters near River Resort in Yutan, Neb Thursday March 14, 2019.
A flooded home near Mosquito Creek in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Two corn cobs float in floodwaters near Mosquito Creek in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Thursday, March 14, 2019.