These remarks were prepared for a meeting of the Mississippi River Commission in Caruthersville, Mo., on Aug. 19.
Major General Toy and members of the Mississippi River Commission, it is a pleasure to be here this morning.
I am here today to represent the membership of Neighbors of the Mississippi and speak with you about the problems that have occurred on the Upper Mississippi River due partially to lack of adequate, well-defined rules and enforcement of those rules.
I hope in the near future decisions will be made for a fair and equitable plan for the Upper Mississippi River. There is an immediate need to address the increased frequency of flooding and climate change. The Rock Island Corps of Engineers and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association are moving forward with watershed studies, and I feel confident we are in capable hands. They will need the support and cooperation of all of the levee districts along the river.
Farmers in Pike, Lincoln, and St. Charles counties were not the recipients of federal levees. Some of the districts that were recipients of these higher, well-built structures have raised their levees even higher.
What advantage is there to creating a plan for the river if individuals ignore that plan and continue to interpret the rules in their favor? FEMA and states are turning their heads and will not use their power of enforcement. Rule breaker’s over-built levees are in violation and should not be overlooked or grandfathered in and enforcement of rules and regulations should not be ignored.
There is a crucial need for the Corps of Engineers and FEMA to work together to reconstruct and clarify rules and regulations regarding the levee systems along the Upper Mississippi River. In the past, rules have been broken partially because they have not been clearly defined. It seems there are no specific consequences to not following the rules. This lack of specifics and enforcement of the rules must be corrected. Consequences for breaking those rules must be clearly defined or we will see some districts continue to defy authority and ignore rules and regulations because they can. If the federal government is going to spend money for a better plan, better enforcement is a must.
Some of the districts that violate the rules are promoting their own plan. I have one question for them. Are they willing to live with the standards they want us to accept?
I feel justified in my statements. Every levee district within our organization was either overtopped or broken. Our farm lost 1,500 acres to the flood of 2019, and the water was on our land for at least three months.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
Neighbors of the