As residents along the Missouri River dig out from this year's devastating flood, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) and Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) have released a short documentary highlighting personal stories behind the summer-long inundation. The 15-minute film, Underwater and Overlooked: Crisis on the Missouri River, debuted last night to a crowd of corn growers, community leaders and elected officials in St. Joseph, Mo.
"People's lives and livelihoods have been decimated," said Rob Korff, MCMC chairman, corn grower from Norborne, Mo., and film participant. "Though the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declared the flood to be officially over, the hard work now shifts into overdrive. Unless the full system is repaired by next year's flood season, communities and farms remain extremely vulnerable to repeat flooding and repeat losses."
This has been a devastating year for farmers along the rivers. In May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) blew up three levees in southeast Missouri, flooding 200 square miles of homes, fields and businesses along the banks of the Mississippi River. Shortly thereafter, the Corps began releasing historic amounts of water from the Missouri Reservoir System, flooding an estimated 400,000 acres of prime farmland for four months. The sustained, record-breaking releases severely damaged federal, non-federal and private levees along the Missouri River, causing concern for both this and next year's crop.
"In addition to asking some tough questions, we were looking for a way to convey the stress, the frustration, the sense of hopelessness that rolled in with the floodwaters," said Missouri Corn Director of Communications Becky Frankenbach. "This short film documents some of the personal stories behind the devastation. We want people to understand how Missouri River flood management decisions impact real lives."
Filmed primarily in Missouri's Holt and Carroll counties, the short documentary was created to educate elected officials and governmental decision makers who have the ability to influence flood management and disaster funding. Flood victims living and working along the Missouri River are seeking assurance from the Corps that management and funding of the Missouri River Reservoir System will be adjusted to prioritize infrastructure repair and development.
"With the waters finally receding, the Corps needs to re-allocate dollars and immediately begin levee repairs," states MCGA President Billy Thiel, a corn grower from Malta Bend, Mo. "From this point forward, pool levels in the reservoirs must be managed to allow for flexibility in the system for future floods. People living and working along the Missouri River cannot withstand another disaster of this proportion."
A second viewing of the film is planned for Thursday evening in Jefferson City, Mo. Underwater and Overlooked: Crisis on the Missouri River can also be viewed at www.mocorn.org/flood