Those Northwest Missouri residents who suffered from historic flooding in 2019 know all too well about the unstoppable force of water, how it will go where it wants, when it wants.
Unfortunately, many of these farmers and property owners are learning that government bureaucracy sometimes proves to be an equally determined and unmovable foe.
A federal disaster declaration establishes April 29 as the starting date for covering flood damage impacting individuals this spring. That comes as news to some who had cleared out of their property more than a month before that date, when waters started going through and over levees protecting farms and small towns across Northwest Missouri.
Recall that Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency on March 21, as the the swollen Missouri River began to devastate communities and infrastructure in its path. The river gauge in Rulo, Nebraska, — just across from Atchison County — showed a record crest reached one day earlier, on March 20. St. Joseph recorded a record-high river level on March 22.
So why is April 29 determined to be the starting date to cover damage impacting individuals? It’s hard to fathom, especially when considering that a major disaster declaration — one that aids local governments and nonprofits with infrastructure repairs in Atchison, Andrew, Buchanan and Holt counties — sets March 11 as the starting date for the coverage period.
Perhaps there’s some reasonable explanation. Maybe we’re expected to believe that floodwaters travel a different route when swamping public infrastructure, as opposed to private homes.
Try explaining that to Annie Wakefield, a resident of the small community of Watson, Missouri. She was flooded out March 16 and had nearly 2 feet of water in her garage at one point.
“To me, it’s the flood of 2019,” she told News-Press NOW. “It’s continuing. It’s ongoing.”
Most likely, Wakefield and others in Northwest Missouri are victims of the arbitrary swipe of a government pen. They aren’t the first to encounter a friendly face who tells them that it’s just the way it is.
We hope it doesn’t have to be that way. Just as the mighty Missouri River is prone to changing course on occasion, let’s hope that those who are responsible for this decision aren’t immune to a little more flexibility after hearing how facts on the ground don’t quite square up with some of the directives coming from Washington, D.C.
The residents of Northwest Missouri have dealt with a lot this year: extreme weather, questionable river management, historic flooding and now this final blow from the confines of a government office. All they’re asking for is a little common sense.