It appears the federal oney for two environmental programs along the Missouri River is drying up. That is being greeted as good news from Missouri Riverbank property owners who were hit hard by the summer flood of 2011. Those property owners think the Corps has focused too much on the environmental concerns along the Missouri, and not enough on flood control. Some of the blame the massive flood on poor management practices by the Corps.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers, money for the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MWRAPS), and the Missouri River Environmental Restoration Project (MRERP) were not included in the giant spending bill signed by President Barack Obama on December 23.
“We are currently assessing the impacts to the program and will developing a path forward for an orderly shutdown of the MRERP in 2012”, said Lisa Rabbe, the Co-project Manager for MRERP.
That means all MRERP activities set for 2012 are being cancelled.
The environmental program (MRERP) studies the fish and wildlife of the river basin, according to Tom Waters of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association.
Waters also says the huge spending bill provides money to repair the Missouri River levees damaged last summer during the flood.
“I feel better than I did a month ago”, he said after learning the two programs would not be funded.
Waters says it has not been determined how the levee repair money will be allocated along the Missouri River. Two of the hardest hit Corps districts were in the Kansas City area and in and around the Omaha district.
Also, the flood repair along the Mississippi River received over 800 million dollars for that work, according to the Associated Press.
The Southeast Missourian newspaper says the destroyed Bird’s Point levee is the top priority for the Corps along the Mississippi.
The Corps deliberately blew that levee last spring to relieve flood pressure on the small town of Cairo, Illinois.
Missouri Lawmakers Offer Reforms to Handle Natural Disasters
December 8, 2011
(Debris left after Joplin tornado)
(AP) — A House committee examining the state’s response to a spate of natural disasters approved recommendations Wednesday including allowing out-of-state health care providers to help when a state of emergency is declared in Missouri.
The Interim Committee on Disaster Recover voted 9-2 in favor of the committee report. The panel’s chairman, Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, called the report a “template” that would be helpful for lawmakers during their annual legislative session that starts next month.
Rep. Terry Swinger, D-Caruthersville, expressed some concerns, including that the governor’s ability to act swiftly in responding to disasters could be limited.
The committee examined responses to numerous storms and severe weather that hit Missouri the past year. A blizzard slammed the state in February. Months later, tornadoes struck Joplin, Sedalia and the St. Louis area. And severe flooding inundated communities along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
The report recommends allowing doctors, nurses and other medical providers licensed in other states to assist in disaster zones when a Missouri governor declares a state of emergency. It also calls for allowing waivers for some licensing requirements for construction-related industries to help speed up rebuilding.
Other recommendations include:
– Setting up a joint legislative oversight committee if officials decide to tap a special budget reserve fund, called the “Rainy Day Fund.” So far, no money has been spent from that fund, which would require a request from the governor and approval by the Legislature.
– Allowing damaged buildings and structures on commercial property to be removed from tax rolls after natural disasters until they can be used again. This idea is modeled after an existing law letting Missouri counties adopt ordinances that permit residential structures to be removed from tax rolls when made uninhabitable by natural disasters. Similar legislation was considered this fall during a special session.
– Establishing special Tax Increment Financing districts in disaster areas that would permit a portion of the growth in state and local tax revenues from those disaster zones to help finance redevelopment efforts. The idea also was considered during the fall special session.
– Providing no-interest loans to offset insurance deductibles, help property owners who are not assisted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or help people without insurance for damaged property.
– Giving communities affected by disasters technical advice about how to use municipal, private and volunteer workers to maximize their ability to be reimbursed for costs.
– Making standard policy the decision by state departments after the Joplin tornado to coalesce their representatives at one location in the community.
Missouri lawmaker Sylvester Taylor tell the Missouri News Horizon the soon-to-be-finished Report on the Missouri Batural Disasters of 2011 need to be about more that the Joplin recovery
McCaskill says some of the federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds will be re-directed to deal with the East Coast hurricane. That will affect recovery efforts in Joplin, northwest Missouri and other parts of the states hit by natural disasters this year.
In a Sunday statement McCaskill said, “”Days ago I walked the streets of Joplin. I saw construction projects where rubble had been, I saw parks where trees had toppled, and I saw a community trying to heal and rebuild — I didn’t see any camera trucks. I warned FEMA and assured victims in Joplin that they would not be forgotten after the camera trucks lowered their antennas and rolled out-of-town, I will fight to make sure that promise is kept.”
Last week, Missouri Governor Nixon said he did not expect the upcoming special session of the legislature to deal with a disaster spending plan.
Nixon says the state is not in a position yet because all the bills have not come in.
“You can’t pay the bills until you know the amount”, Nixon said. Nixon is taking heat for withholding about $150 million in authorized state spending to pay for the storms. He has also been sued by state Auditor Tom Schwiech over the dispute.
The Governor, however, expects, a comprehensive disaster spending measure will be part of the 2012 General Assembly session.
(AP file photo)
From the Missourinet via Johncombest:
State officials join the Farm Bureau in calling on the Corps of Engineers to not only put Missouri’s levees back the way they were before the floods, but to build them even better.
Governor Nixon tells the Farm Bureau he’s on their side in getting the Birds Point levee in Southeast Missouri rebuilt on the fast track.
Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says the Corps of Engineers’ plan to termporarily rebuild the Birds Point Levee to 51 feet isn’t good enough, and Nixon agrees.
The Corps plans to rebuild the levee to an interim height 11 feet lower than it was when they blew out the levee save the town of Cairo, Ill.
Hurst says he was always taught that when you break it, you buy it.
“You know, my mother used to tell every time we went in the dime store that if I broke it, I owned it,” Hurst says.
He tells state officials he hopes the worst has passed, but lots of farmers are stull suffering.
Governor Nixon addressed the Farm Bureau, saying he agrees that the levee must be built back not only to where it was before the Corps blew it out, but says it needs to be even better than before.
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and West Central Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler also expressed their support to the Farm Bureau, saying flooding and other disasters have dealt a wicked blow to farmers this year. Hartzler says budget concerns are at the center of discussions in Washington, and that includes disaster recovery.
Hurst says, the Corps blew the Birds Point Levee this spring, “and it just seems right to me that it go back to the original 62-foot height.”
He adds that the river has been above 51 feet in 12 of the last 20 years, which, he says, makes surrounding acres much less viable for producing a crop.
“It’s also important to make that economic connector down there,” Nixon says. “You’ve got 137,000 acres of prime farm land that needs to part of our economy. For generations it’s been incredibly, incredibly valuable and viable and we need to get it back in full production as quickly as we can.”