Landowners along Missouri River Sue Corps for Flooding
FORT CALHOUN, Neb. (KPTM)- Farmers in five different states, including Nebraska, filed a lawsuitagainst the Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday.
Lawyers said the corps has intentionally flooded hundreds ofacres of farmland since 2004 after it changed its policy on flood control andconservation.
"Every year the risk of flooding has gone up because thecorps has made a decision to promote the interest of fish and wildlife," saidlawyer for plaintiffs, Edwin Smith.
Smith said the Corps is in the process of trying to restorethe Missouri river banks to what they were before flood control started in the 1940sin order to save endangered fish and wildlife. Smith said by doing that, the engineers at theCorps have caused flooding all along the Missouri.
"They turned their backs on flood control for fish andwildlife. They knew when they did it you were going to get this kind offlooding," said Smith.
A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers said they donot comment on pending litigation.
For farmers Kelli and Jeff Shaner, the 2011 flood was one ofmany they've had to work through.
"Think about losing a crop for 2010, the entire crop in2011, having it impact you in 2008 and 2013 as well," said Jeff.
There is a levee on the edge of Jeff's property that holdsback the Missouri River. Since it was destroyed in 2011, it has been replaced,but a large chunk of it is lower than the rest. Smith said that is one step the corps is taking to restore the MissouriRiver, but it's also letting more water than ever on Shaner's land.
"Why did the flood of 1993 only last 14 days and the floodof 2011 lasted 100 days? I'll tell you why, because the corps' changes had not occurredin 1993," said Smith.
The Shaner's said they joined the lawsuit in February, butnow there are around 200 people have also joined the lawsuit.
"The government cannot take our private property for thegood of the public unless they give us compensation," said Smith.
"It has not only an impact on my family, but my community,my community being Fort Calhoun, my community being the state of Nebraska-Washington County. Every dollar that Ispend trickles and goes to somebody else," said Jeff Shaner.
Shaner said the water from the 2011 flood lasted around 100days, but the sand it left behind has made it hard for his crops to grow andequipment to function.
"Three years later and we've been working," said Shaner. "Constantlyworking on it, and we're not done yet."
Smith said more farmers may also join the lawsuit.
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