ROCK PORT, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson receive a firsthand look and complete update Tuesday on the damage flooding has wreaked across upper Northwest Missouri.
Parson toured several sites of flood-related damage in the Rock Port, Missouri, area. He listened as local officials offered a litany of issues linked to the flood that still need some serious attention.
“It’s been a heck of a year,” said Atchison County Presiding Commissioner Curtis Livengood. “I’m learning something new every day.”
Parson was accompanied by North Missouri Congressman Sam Graves and state Rep. Allen Andrews, R-Grant City, on the tour. Other federal, state and local officials offered their own updates on the flood’s aftermath.
County Clerk Susette Taylor said more than 74,000 acres west of Interstate 29 were inundated, adding that 14 commercial businesses have sustained water damage. Almost 1,300 farm buildings were impacted.
“I think we can say every business in our county was affected,” Taylor said.
County residents who work at the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, found their commutes lengthen to two and a half hours. Work on the railroad also has caused damage, Taylor said, and more could result to local homes.
Parson has formed a flood relief task force that includes representation by officials in Atchison and Holt counties.
The governor said he realizes people have become “beaten down” by the flood. He admitted that both Nebraska and Iowa have received attention for their flood woes ahead of Missouri, but said he isn’t giving up on procuring help for his state.
“We’re trying to push every envelope we can,” Parson said. “We’ve got to protect the future. ... It’s a tough road to go. Somebody’s going to get left out sometimes. ... We know what rural farmland in Missouri’s about. ... You know, I think we’re looking at everything we can possibly do from a government level to help those farmers. But the reality of it is, there’s not a lot you can do. ... It’s just a matter of how do you pick up the pieces afterward.”
Graves said he is monitoring activity on flood relief at the federal level, but noted the status quo is unacceptable.
“We’ve got to stay focused on changing the management,” he said. “I’m going to stay as focused as I can on management. ... We’ve got to pay attention to these nonfederal levees.”
Governors of Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa will continue meeting with Parson on flood issues.
“We’ve got to change the management of the (Missouri) river,” the governor continued. “We need a seat at the table. I’ve said that all along, with the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers.”
Missouri’s leaders were able to place $8 million in the state budget for flood projects. Yet Parson said more funding will be necessary as further damage is uncovered by the receding waters.
Andrews told News-Press NOW he appreciates the governor’s interest in restoring Northwest Missouri farm communities afflicted by the flood, and said he plans to become involved in securing appropriations from next year’s General Assembly session for that purpose.