Nebraska floods, March 2019. Photo: Nebraska National Guard
Nebraska floods, March 2019. Photo: Nebraska National Guard

From News Reports

More than one million acres of farmland are reported to be damaged from historic flooding so far this year. Satellite data analyzed for Reuters shows the “bomb cyclone” weather event in March left wide swaths of nine major grain producing states under water. Farms from the Dakotas to Missouri and beyond have been under water with weekend rains adding more concern. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned this spring could be an “unprecedented flood season” as it forecasts heavy spring rains, and cites flooding conditions already seen along major river basins. The report shows that nearly 1.1 million acres of cropland and more than 84,000 acres of pastureland in the Midwest was covered with floodwaters for at least seven days between March 8 and March 21. Still, the flooded areas represent less than one percent of U.S. land to grow corn, soybeans and other crops. Iowa, the top U.S. corn and second soy producing state, had the most water, covering 474,200 acres, followed by Missouri with 203,100 acres, according to Gro Intelligence, the agency that compiled the report.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Says Iowa may see more than $2 billion in damages from recent flooding in the state. The organization says damages from the Missouri River are not complete and the Mississippi River’s anticipated flooding has yet to hit, which will make this a challenging year for Iowa farmers.

Iowa Farm Bureau senior economist Sam Funk says the damages will continue to culminate long after the floodwaters recede. Compared to the 2011 flood that destroyed 127,00 acres of crops, Funk says “this flood isn’t just bigger; the effects will last longer.” Flooding may peak again, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, when snow melts make their way down from neighboring northern states and heavy spring rains arrive.

Many farmers in the flooded areas won’t plant a crop this season. And, like in Nebraska, Iowa livestock farmers were challenged by floodwaters directly impacting animals or in accessing roads needed to care for livestock or transport them to market.

AccuWeather estimates the total damage and economic loss caused by record-breaking flooding in the Midwestern U.S. this spring will total $12.5 billion, based on an analysis of damages already inflicted and those expected by additional flooding, as well as the lingering health effects resulting from flooding and the disease caused by standing water.

AccuWeather’s damage estimate factors in official states’ estimates while incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the flooding damage based on a variety of sources and statistics.

A $13.5 billion federal disaster relief package that would help Nebraskans and Iowans stalled in the Senate last week.

All four GOP senators from Nebraska and Iowa voted for the package. During Republican leaders’ Tuesday press conference, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, expressed disappointment in seeing the bill blocked.

“Folks in Iowa have lost their businesses, they have lost their homes,” Ernst said. “Our communities have lost their infrastructure. Livestock — gone. Grain — gone. It is devastating and it is heartbreaking.”

She said the GOP package represents the most comprehensive response available because it covered 2018 disasters as well as granting eligibility for assistance to flooded Midwestern states.