Some folks have said I sound a bit like a broken record—that all I ever talk about is flooding, flooding, flooding. There’s some truth to that, as many parts of North Missouri have been underwater at one point in time or another this year. There are families in Northwest Missouri that haven’t been able to return home for more than 7 months now. There is farmland in Northeast Missouri that’s still underwater. Right now, there’s nothing more important than helping these folks get back on their feet and helping protect our communities from future flooding.
The sad reality is that while we can see what’s still happening in our backyard, there’s plenty of people in Washington, DC that don’t have a clue what we’ve gone through. They still don’t know about the farmers whose fields have been flooded from planting season to harvest. They don’t know about the families who have been shut out of their homes. They don’t know about communities that have been repeatedly besieged by the never-ending Flood of 2019.
This week, however, we were able to shine a light on some of the problems we’ve been facing—and I was proud to welcome Atchison County Emergency Management Director Rhonda Wiley to testify before Congress. Rhonda was straight and to the point describing the problems folks are facing with the arbitrary dates set for individual disaster assistance. She also didn’t mince words when it came to the need to fix our river management priorities and work harder to protect our communities from future floods.
I also had the chance to ask a few pointed questions of FEMA about the arbitrary date issue. It doesn’t make a lick of sense that some folks qualified for assistance and others didn’t— and the only difference was the day of the week their homes were hit by the floodwaters. To add insult to injury, some folks were devastated by the same floodwaters that hit our neighbors in Iowa and Nebraska, and while our neighbors across the state lines qualified for assistance, Missourians didn’t. This isn’t right, and I’m going to keep pressing for answers.
We may have smaller populations in rural areas like North Missouri, but our communities are critical to the Nation’s supply of food and other resources. When even a few people are displaced, that causes a significant impact on the local economy. As I’ve said many times before, North Missourians are resilient, and we will get through this. We’ve just got to make sure that the federal government doesn’t stand in the way.
Sam Graves is the Mo. Sixth District U.S. Representative.