Jefferson City On Tuesday, March 16, Governor Mike Parson met with Brigadier General Pete Helmlinger, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division, to discuss Missouri’s recovery from the 2019 flood.
Governor Parson credits support from the legislature as well as Missouri’s work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has led to faster recovery than the floods of 1993 and 2011.
“I’d like to thank Brigadier General Pete Helmlinger and the Army Corps of Engineers for their teamwork in this effort. Levees damaged in the 2019 flood are 70 percent reconstructed, and our communities are well on their way to recovery,” Governor Parson said. “Additionally, the legislature’s funding support has allowed us to provide assistance to local levee districts and help communities get back to business as usual more quickly.”
“We applaud Missouri for their swift action in this response,” said Colonel William Hannan, Kansas City District Commander for the Corps, who also attended the meeting. “We appreciate the teamwork with Governor Parson and his agency staff.”
The state of Missouri provided 75 percent of the cost share to rebuild levees impacted by the 2019 flood. This was a recommendation of the Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group, which Governor Parson established through Executive Order 19-14 in July 2019.
The purpose of the group was to provide input on the state’s flood recovery priorities and feedback on the state’s current levee system. The group also was tasked with providing input on priorities for allocation of state funding as Missouri recovers from the 2019 flooding. Another recommendation from the working group was for the state to provide support to the Atchison County Levee Setback, which is now nearing completion. This effort, one of the largest levee setback projects on the lower Missouri River in many years, will reduce damages from future floods.
Staff from the Department of Natural Resources, State Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Conservation provided invaluable assistance and worked with a multitude of partners, including The Nature Conservancy, Atchison County Levee District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments.
“From the beginning, I’ve said we must look at doing things differently than we have in past floods if we expect better protection and mitigation of impacts in the future,” Governor Parson said. “The success of the Atchison County project is a great example of what we can accomplish by working together, and we commend the levee district and all partners involved for their innovative thinking and teamwork to provide a solution that enhances protection.”
Governor Parson also plans to continue working with Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa to discuss lessons learned from 2019 flood recovery efforts and actions that can be jointly implemented to protect the lower Missouri system and each state’s citizens.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included damage to navigation infrastructure, funding priorities, moving the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency project to St. Louis, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ support for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.
Governor Parson and the Corps also discussed progress on two reservoir projects in the state. Little Otter Creek Reservoir in Caldwell County and East Locust Creek Reservoir in Sullivan County will provide much needed long-term water supply in northern Missouri. Governor Parson is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Little Otter Creek on Friday.
Director Carol Comer and Deputy Director Dru Buntin from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also attended the meeting. Both have played a leading role in Missouri's flood recovery efforts. As spring approaches, Director Comer is optimistic about the basin outlook.
“Right now, flood storage is fully available, and the National Weather Service is predicting below average runoff,” Director Comer said. “Even with a favorable forecast, we routinely monitor conditions and remain in contact with the Corps and other partners to ensure we’re prepared for flood and drought events that may impact Missouri.”
The final report from the Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group is available here.