Mother Nature thumbs nose at Master Manual

Yes, right now the priority needs to be sandbagging and levee building….but when the waters recede what can we learn from this?

In my life as a Senate staffer, I learned that it never hurts to take a swipe at the Corps of Engineers — they work as well as anyone for a punching bag — and I’m pretty well convinced that all the Master Manual said was — Screw the Upstream States.  But taking political swipes for political swipes sake can only make you feel better for a short time.   Ask the people in Pierre, Ft. Pierre, Dakota Dunes, Yankton and other river towns how much political sniping helps them.

I find it hard not to look at the information that was available…record snowfall and such and not think that there should have been actions taken sooner…more water released earlier, levees built sooner, more inmates filling sandbags sooner… but would all that something have made a difference even to one family or business?   Maybe it’s too early to know.  But the questions should be asked and those being impacted by the flood waters deserve answers.

The old commercial used to say “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.”  But when she’s been sending telegrams about what she’s up to it’s pretty hard to say she’s the only one responsible.  We might not be able to change her — but we can change the policies and folks charged with managing the river.

14 Replies to “Mother Nature thumbs nose at Master Manual”

  1. golden

    For those who still need flood insurance, the 30-day waiting period is waived if your lender requires you to purchase flood insurance (talk to your banker). Most of these homes were built out of the flood plain, and yes, the excess water is natural, but the inept Corp leadership once again is inexcusable. Are any of them actually engineers?

  2. Mom

    No one seems to be mentioning the Piping Plover or the (supposedly) endanger fish. The silly “environmentally friendly” decisions that cause both flooding and a lack of water when we need it.

    If we planned to build another dam in the USA to provide power, flood control and recreation–we would never be able to get it approved–there would be crazy people chaining themselves to trees. The EPA — which is now staffed with crazy people who need to move to Africa and watch out for stuff there (while living a war zones)–would scream all kinds of lies and would certainly block building. It is the environmental crazies that cause this kind of disaster.

    1. Pierre resident

      Or to the people in Marion Gardens–if you want to live by the river, build canals, and play big shot–they you should expect flooding. NO WAY should that development ever have been allowed to be built–when you start messing with the river, nature and God you can expect things to happen. I feel bad people will lose their homes but just saying………

  3. Elais

    If people build in flood plains, there is that gosh darn risk your home will be flooded. That’s not the governments fault, for sure.

  4. Fletch

    Most ground is a flood plain when you get right down to it. All of SD was a lake at one point. I think the anger that is being felt is that this was a more “preventable” flood than current information is showing. I fished Lake Sharpe this spring and water levels were not significantly high. When you spend the money to build a dam and then have criteria of importance, you should at least follow the criteria. As I recall the first criteria was the protection of life and property. Second to that was river traffic (barges). Power generation was below that in importance and we all know how far down the list is recreation.

    Maybe nothing would have changed. Maybe the levees would still have needed building, the bags filled and people evacuated. Part of the failure lies in the lack of information at an early stage. “Hey people, we have record snowfalls and a pretty full dam. Depending on the spring, here’s what we’re going to do.” Dumping a ton of water would have been deemed an overreaction if the snowmelt was slow and measured and it was a dry spring. Conversely this it the other end of the spectrum. I think a middle ground should be the aim.

    Has anyone asked Stasch point blank, “Did you recommend higher water releases this winter?” or “Were you concerned about the record snowpack levels in the Rockies and what, if any, action did you take based on that knowledge”?


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