Disaster aid is coming for both Iowa and Nebraska, as the two states have seen billions of dollars in flood damage during the month of March. The National Guard is pitching in with hay drops, and a National Weather Service hydrologist recommends flood insurance as a long-term flooding threat looms over the Midwest.
State of Emergency
Chuck Abbott of Successful Farming reports that President Trump has now signed disaster proclamations for both Nebraska and Iowa, which makes federal assistance available for the states. It’s also a possibility that the US Senate may vote on a bill including additional funds for flood relief in the Corn Belt.
Iowa governor Kim Reynolds predicted the recovery to be long, but that they would have the funds needed to rebuild. Reynolds estimated losses in the state to be $1.6 billion, and included that in her request for federal aid. Unofficial losses in Nebraska have been estimated to be $1.3 billion- most of it in the agriculture industry. Iowa Senator Joani Ernst said,
“The devastation caused by the flooding is incomprehensible.”
Federal aid to both states will allow grants and low-interest loans for housing and home repair to individuals in the hardest-hit areas. The USDA will also offer loans for farmers and ranchers up to $500,000 to cover property losses.
Mary Green of KCRG reports that Iowa flooding will be costly, likely over a billion dollars in damages have occurred in the state. Governor Kim Reynolds says that Iowa has take a $1.6 billion hit from March flooding along the Missouri River. Iowa Senator Joani Ernst visited some of the counties seeing the most damage.
“In Fremont County, which is the far, far southwest county in our state, they have about $100 million in agricultural losses, between livestock and grain,” she said.
Stored grain in the state contaminated by flood waters may not be salvageable. Farmers seeing heavy damage from flooding might not be able to recover before the start of Spring planting. By the end of April, planting season is in full swing in most of the state. That doesn’t give farmers much time to clean up their fields.
Iowa cattle farmers in flooded areas of the state are also having a challenging time. Pastures tend to be more flood-prone areas, and cattle can become trapped on some of the higher ground on their pastures. Young calves can also be easy flood victims.
Military helicopters in Nebraska have been dropping hay to cattle that remain stranded due to high flood waters. According to the Tribune Media Wire, the Nebraska Army National Guard had been using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with Company B, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, to drop the bales of hay. You can watch the Twitter video here:
More flooding in the Midwest is possible for the remainder of the spring. Nancy Gaarder of the World-Herald reports that it might be quite awhile before rivers in the area return back to normal levels. Late last week, the National Weather Service (NWS) announced that more than 2/3 of US states have a higher than normal risk of flooding right now. NWS hydrologist David Pearson says now might be a good time to purchase that flood insurance.
It’s typical for policies to have a 30-day delay before they become active coverage, but Pearson says that there’s enough of a long-term flooding risk that the added insurance might be a smart move.
“Absolutely,” Pearson said. “For most people it doesn’t cost a lot, especially when compared to the out-of-pocket cost of repairing.”
More Flooding Possible
Pearson is predicting multiple flooding threats throughout the spring. More rain is possible, and heavy snow pack along the Big Sioux and James Rivers could cause the Missouri to swell. In addition, Rocky Mountain snow pack will also begin to melt over the next month, which could also cause flooding if Platte River levels are already higher than normal.
“We don’t have enough time to get the (Missouri) river back to normal in between the record, historic event that we’re coming out of and the beginning of the Plains snowmelt,” he said.
That may cause even more flooding issues.
Ag Nook related article titled, “Flooded Out” highlights the adverse impacts of the flooding on the Ag community.