Multiple senators hold hearing over U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood response
Four U.S. senators held a hearing in Glenwood, Iowa, on April 19 seeking an explanation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about their response to the massive flooding in the Midwest this year and what can be done to prevent — or at least mitigate — future disasters.
According to The Daily Nonpareil, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa were joined by Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas in questioning John Remus, the chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, and Army Maj. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the Corps’ deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations.
Ernst said floods like these should not happen so regularly. According to The Daily Nonpareil, the 2011 Missouri River flood was frequently brought up and compared to this year’s flooding, which is estimated to have caused more than $3 billion in damages.
“The trend of flood and rebuild, flood and rebuild must end,” Ernst said to The Daily Nonpareil.
The Corps should be more aggressive in preventing flood damage and consider the effects of climate change, but is hindered by funding and bureaucracy, Gillibrand said.
“They are too slow, too bureaucratic,” she said.
According to Remus, the agency works to balance all the uses of the river and maximize the benefit to several when possible, while flood control remains the top concern anytime flooding is imminent along the Missouri River.
“The number one priority of the Corps in its operations is life and public safety,” Remus said.
The flooding this year was compounded by rain, melting snow and high amounts of water that needed to be released from reservoirs along the river system, Remus said.
Remus and Spellmon agreed nothing could have been done to prevent the disaster given the system’s current capacities.
Following the hearing, several local officials and residents offered their accounts of the flooding.