THEIR OPINION: Make sure Corps learns the lessons of 2011
BISMARCK -- U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is right to continue to pressure the Army Corps of Engineers on preparation for a potential 2012 flood. And Bismarck and Burleigh County are wise to now set up a joint task force to develop a flood plan....
BISMARCK -- U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is right to continue to pressure the Army Corps of Engineers on preparation for a potential 2012 flood.
And Bismarck and Burleigh County are wise to now set up a joint task force to develop a flood plan.
Spring 2011 was a rude awakening along the Missouri River, from Fort Peck in Montana to St. Louis. The Missouri ravaged its banks and any unprotected homes along the way. Garrison and her sister dams on the Missouri filled to near overflowing.
The damage will reach nearly $2 billion.
The key to how the Missouri misbehaved in North Dakota was the Corps. The river managers were caught by heavy rains in a basin already waterlogged by the melting winter snowpack.
The Corps has been second-guessed for not running more water out of Garrison earlier in the spring.
That the Corps intends to start next spring with Garrison Dam at the same level as it was this spring hasn't raised public confidence in the federal agency.
Hoeven has been pressing the Corps to be better prepared.
But Corps division leader Brig. Gen. John McMahon's response has been, "There has to be a good reason to draw down more water. It gives me a degree of confidence that ... we won't have another year like this year, next year."
Not everyone here shares McMahon's confidence. And $2 billion seems reason enough.
Putting together a joint task force for Bismarck and Burleigh County officials to look toward next spring also makes sense. One of the issues back in April and May was that local government hadn't had to fight a serious flood in a long time.
The cities and counties made up plans as they went, based on conflicting information from the Corps. For a majority of residents, the result was good. But others were hit hard.
It was an expensive learning curve.
Although the issues are different in Mandan and in Morton County, the public would be well served if officials there had a more cohesive plan for next spring.
A task force on the west side of the Missouri would be useful, as well.
It behooves local government (and people living in vulnerable neighborhoods) to be as self-reliant as possible when it comes to flood protection.
Successful flood-fighting takes a coordinated effort at all levels by neighborhoods, cities, counties, state and federal agencies.
-- The Bismarck Tribune