RUSHVILLE, Mo. — Buchanan County fields that typically feature row upon row of soybeans and corn is now sodden with floodwaters, forcing farmers into an undesirable waiting game.
Producers such as Lanny Frakes decided to attend a Wednesday night meeting in St. Joseph, sponsored by the Missouri Farm Bureau, to swap stories of flood damage and begin what will likely turn into a long recovery from lost spring planting.
Frakes also took time in the afternoon for a quick survey of the Missouri River waters that have spilled over his farm property in southern Buchanan County. It's become a familiar sight, and one he believes could very well be repeated in the future.
"Every flood's different," Frakes said, recounting what happened to the county's farm levees in 1993 and 2011. "I'd be surprised if much of this gets planted this year ... We're concerned about rainfall and future runoff of snowmelt, and thunderstorm events. I think we have potential for more flooding between now and late June or early July."
He estimates he has about 1,300 acres under water. He helps assess the toll taken on structures such as the Halls Levee and the Rushville-Sugar Lake Levee, serving as an officer in various capacities.
He and neighbors have spent time since last week fighting off sand boils, an underground movement of water that could threaten to breach the levees. Seeping water poses another problem.
The good news is that river and standing water levels are gradually subsiding for Buchanan County's impacted farmers. On the flip side, however, those like Frakes recognize that their flood-fighting apparatuses are not sufficient to handle the volume of water that has spread over their land. He doubts that gravity discharge pumps will be opened at all this summer due to higher-than-normal river levels at St. Joseph.
"It's going to be out of business," said Frakes of the pumps.
Fellow farmers will be losing not only their field crops that weren't successfully harvested last year. Grain kept in susceptible bins and expensive machinery such as combines are also falling victim to the flood.
The Rushville-Sugar Lake Levee, which has suffered a 1,000-foot break from the waters, is a nonfederal system, meaning local landowners must come up with what will be a challenging 20 percent of the funds needed for repairs. The Halls Levee is 100 percent federally funded, he added.
"The costs are going to be phenomenal to repair these," Frakes said of the levees.
It's hoped the federal government will be able to supply some relief, although damage to the farms is still inestimable.
Officials held the private briefing for farmers at the Hoof & Horn on the South Side. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said he plans to view additional farm damage in far Northwest Missouri on Thursday.
"We're a long ways from being through this threat," he told News-Press Now before the session. "We're just listening."