Flood Lawsuit Targets Corps of Engineers

Farmers and business owners have teamed up to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, claiming the agency has mismanaged the Missouri River since 2006 and contributed to major flooding in five states.

Many farmers have argued that the Corps could have done a lot more to keep the flooding at bay in 2011 and they want the Corps to put flood control at the top of the priority list again.

When the Missouri left its banks in 2011 it cost cities and business hundreds of millions of dollars in an attempt hold back the water.

As record snowfall melted in Montana, spring rainfalls in the basin north of Omaha caused widespread destruction. When the water receded, fields had turned to beaches.

Homes, like Pat Sheldon’s place in Percival, Iowa were gone.

"It's disheartening,” Percival said. “That's our life. Our family has been in it for many, many generations. I'm a fifth generation. We have a son that’s sixth generation. That's who we are and what we are."

More than 200 farmers and property owners have joined the lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers. They want compensation for what was lost: their land and livelihoods.

Tecumseh’s Scott Olsen said, "I'm one of the lucky ones. At least I got mine back together." Scott documented the damage in 5,000 photographs.

Charles Garst said, "We lost about 280 acres of ground that is completely gone." Garst, of Watson, Missouri watched as his cropland valued at $5,000 an acre diminish to nothing.

The lawsuit is the based on the 5th amendment. Attorneys from Kansas City say the Corps flooded the land, in essence making it unusable, without paying anyone for it.

Edwin Smith, with the Polsinelli Law Firm, said, "We don't care about the motivation other than they made a decision to take our land for fish and wildlife purposes."

It comes down to that. A judge will decide if the Corps of Engineers was more concerned about environmental interests than flood control.

The Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha said they’re aware of the lawsuit but aren't commenting at this time. Some outside experts have said the Corps did the best it could with the record amounts of water.

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