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Mo. governor declares state of emergency, while flood victims blame US Army Corps of Engineers

FORTESCUE, Mo. -- Missouri Governor Mike Parson declared a State of Emergency for much of northwest Missouri Thursday.

Floodwaters have broken through dozens of levees in Holt County. Flooding extends five miles away from where the Missouri River should be within its banks, with water breaking through levees along Tarkio Creek.

This actually may be good news for people downstream in Parkville, Mo., because levy breaks relieve pressure downstream.

In Holt County, leaders say there are about 44 miles of levees underwater, which has flooded about 95,000 acres of prime farmland.

Both county leaders and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, who represents this area, say this is the worst flooding they've ever seen, causing more damage than the epic flood of 1993 and the more recent 2011 event.

Some farmers and elected leaders blame the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for poor management of the Missouri River lock and dam system that's support to prevent flooding. Instead some claim the corps has put environmental concerns ahead of flood control.

"They were built to protect from floods not cause them," said Tom Bullock, Holt County presiding commissioner. "They weren’t built to protect a fish and a bird and that kind of stuff. That’s what it’s kind of turned into and I don’t like it. Farmers don’t like it. Nobody lives in the bottoms. We lived here for a long time and didn’t have this happen."

"It happens regularly. Every flood that comes along anymore is a new record. It just keeps getting higher and higher and higher. After the last flood they come around and said, 'Well if you build above this level you will be protected with flood insurance.' Everybody pretty much did that. Built their house up on a basement. It wasn’t high enough this time. There’s going to be a lot of disaster out there."

The same frustrations were expressed in 2011 when those along the river complained about management practices that put protecting the piping plover and pallid sturgeon ahead of preventing flooding. Farmers say as a result they've seen a lot of wildlife killed because of this flood. Graves claims the Corps of Engineers has even lost a lawsuit over it. A court held the army liable for damages in four of the last five floods.

Others say they can't blame the army for all the damage. They say heavy rainfall in Nebraska on top of a lot of snow pack contributed to the situation.

Water patrol troopers rescued four people from their homes overnight near Craig, Mo. That's a dangerous operation because the waters are cold, about 35 degrees, and fast moving. Rescuers are taking a lot of risk to get to people, as voluntary evacuations continue in Winthrop, Mo.

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