Two area people who saw the full effects of the 2011 flood will take their stories to Congress next week.
Holt County Clerk Kathy Kunkel and the President of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, Tom Waters, will appeared November 30 before a House subcommittee on water resources and infrastructure.
In Holt County, Kunkel says 160,000 acres of ground were either flooded or affected by the flood. Holt County has about 456 square miles she said. It was one of the hardest hit counties in the state. Kunkle says 5 Holt County towns and 112 miles of road were damaged by the flood.
In addition, she says 32 farm levees in the county were breached by the flood. Two federal levees did not break but were badly damaged, she claims..
Waters testified earlier this year to Congress. He has been very critical of the Corps of Engineer’s plans for rebuilding the damaged levee in Missouri.
Kunkle made headline earlier this year with her criticism of the Corps’ management of the Missouri river and its handling of the flood.
She accused the Corps of “devastation by design”, for record-setting releases of water from the reservoirs in the Upper Missouri basin.
The Corps says heavier than expected rains in the northern plains caused the excessive releases.
Kunkel says she expected to talk about the Corps’ land acquisition program along the Missouri River bottom lands.
Earlier this year, a letter went out just as the flood started in northwest Missouri asking property owners if they wanted to be ‘willing sellers” to the Corp’s land mitigation program.
The Corps admitted the timing of that letter was bad, and it should not have been sent out at that time.
Kunkel says between the property the Corps already has purchased in holt County and the Squaw Creek Wildlife Preserve, there is a lot of land in Holt County that is not on the tax rolls.
Kunkel says the Corps pays Holt County $18,000 a year in lieu of taxes. But she insisted if the ground was on the tax rolls, the county would get $36,000 more dollars.
“It’s like having a strip mall, and taking a couple of the small stores off the books”, she said.
Kunkel also wants to tell Congress the Corps needs to fully repair levees, not just patch them. She says she’s also worried about the levees in southwestern Iowa that breached. Those levees were one of the key factors that shut down Interstate 29 in northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa. Kunkel says that also contributed to Holt County’s economic struggles. Two truck stops in the County went out of business because of the lack of traffic.