Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves of Tarkio

Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves of Tarkio

(Washington) -- The fallout continues in the nation's capital over the historic Missouri River flooding of 2019.

Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves--ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee--was among those in attendance at a hearing Wednesday regarding a water resources bill. Considered in the U.S. House every two years, the bill reauthorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' policies. Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program Thursday morning, Graves says the hearing examined the corps' management policies regarding rivers and inland waterways.

"We're taking a look at how they managed this flood," said Graves, "and the way they managed to innovate the inland waterways--which is what they're charged with doing--and trying to get some clarity on what their priorities are when it comes to fish and wildlife, and tourism, and flood control, and navigation, and things like that."

Northwest Missouri residents and groups impacted by this year's flooding were among those testifying at the hearing. Tom Waters, chairman of the Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, said flood control used to be a highly-engineered system. But, over the past 20 years, he says it has been used to do supersized science experiments for birds and fish.

"We've reached the tipping point," said Waters. "We can no longer conduct failed experiment and after failed experiment at the expense of people's lives and livelihoods--and I said lives, because people have died."

Waters says the river flooding is far from over and he wants federal officials to act quickly to get levees repaired.

"We know it's going to be high above flood stage probably through the rest of this summer, fall and winter," he said. "With over a hundred levees breached along the Missouri River, flooding is going to be continue to a problem. It's going to take a long time to recover these levees."

Graves says it was important for committee members to hear about the flood's devastation.

"It's completely turned many people's lives upside down," said the congressman. "So, when you have a priority out there such as fish and wildlife, the fact that we're spending a fraction of the money on levee repair and levee maintenance, as opposed to what we're spending on habitat reclamation and species recovery, it's absolutely ludicrous. So, we're trying to explain to folks that don't understand this, or don't live along the river, that these priorities are devastating people's lives."

The Tarkio Republican still hopes the corps' approach to river management changes.

"They're trying to juggle all these priorities equally," said Graves. "I don't believe they are equal. The system was created for flood control, for flood navigation, and it needs to be operated for those very purposes. Otherwise, we get into these situations, and it causes all this flooding."

Graves recently introduced the Resilient Communities Act of 2019--legislation designed to help Missouri communities recover from the flooding, and better prepare for future events. He's also released a Flood Recovery Resource Guide, providing resources to flood victims. The guide is available from Graves' website.

NOTE: Missourinet contributed to this story.