Farmers file suit for lack of flood control on private property

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Farmers along the Missouri River are suing the federal government, saying recent flooding has not been an act of God, but caused by Washington, D.C.

Property owners in five states claim Uncle Sam is intentionally causing recurrent floods, which is destroying their way of life.

The farmers claim the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deliberately changed its management of the Missouri River beginning in 2007, and that has resulted in repeated flooding, including the worst flood in history of the Mighty Mo back in 2011.

The plaintiffs claim flood control is no longer the Corp’s priority. Environmental concerns and protecting endangered species are just as important. As a result, the Corps is allowing the river to widen out, and not compensating private property owners for the land the river now ruins during what’s become nearly annual flooding.

Farmers in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota all are part of the suit. Lead plaintiff Roger Ideker, a farmer in Corning, Mo., says the river management changes are destroying his livelihood and wiping out valuable farmland.

“To sustain our farms, we cannot continually be flooded,” Ideker said. “Not only our farms but actually it’s a way of life for people in these communities. It’s changed the way they live. It’s changed their whole attitude toward the river. And something has to give.”

Lawyers for those who live along the Missouri River say when the government makes people sacrifice their property for the public good, like protecting wildlife and endangered species, those property owners must be justly compensated. And that’s what this suit seeks.

Farmers don’t blame environmentalists or the Army for what’s happening. Ideker says everyone should work together to protect wildlife and property near the river. It’s hoped the suit will get Congress’ attention to make river management changes that better protect property owners.

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