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CAPITOL VIEW: Nelson, Johanns seek investigation of flood ‘mishandling’ by Army Corp of Engineers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 23 June 2011 20:37

Floods are not forever, but it seems like it if one of them invades your life and your home.

Beyond damage and destruction, which is immediate and lingering, the aftermath of a flood is disgusting.

Disgusting, oftentimes, in a way that might be compared to what used to be called a diaper pail. And that is a mild analogy, chosen in the interest of family newspapers.

A flood isn’t a spring rainstorm that floods your basement, although such is bad enough. A flood is filthy water that carries filthy stuff with it. It’s muck and debris that will stink forever and, even if it doesn’t, whenever you recall the flood the stink will come back to you.

Pray, if you’re the sort who prays, that you never have to deal with a home that has been ravaged by floodwaters, but not ravaged enough to be written off as a total loss.

Once upon a time in Ohio, where floods are more common than football scandals, I regularly waded through the aftermath of the troublesome Ohio River, notebook in hand.

There was a memorable poor soul whose home – at least the entire first floor and most everything it contained – had virtually been warped.

“What are you going to do,” I asked.

“I’m going to keep praying for a … fire!”

It’s more than bad enough when nature slaps a flood on you.

Your stomach is likely to churn at a far higher rate, however, when you have reason to suspect that the damnable thing might have been avoided if some dunderheads had done their jobs.

In this instance, the suspected dunderheads are the people at the Army Corps of Engineers who were responsible for deciding when to begin releasing water from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota.

A good many landowners and officeholders want to know why the Corps didn’t begin those releases a lot sooner, and perhaps avoiding the flood-level waters that have roiled through fields and communities.

Sens. Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns both want federal investigations into what happened, into whether the Corps did its job properly.

If decision-makers within the Corps did the right things, resulting in the best outcomes possible, the public needs to know it.

And if what we’ve seen represents the best outcomes that can be expected, the public needs to know that; and policymakers need to do something about it, if such is possible..


ED HOWARD is the statehouse correspondent for the Nebraska Press Association.