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Proposed legislation targeting flood planning praised

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Proposed federal changes could result in better organized flood response in the Tri-States.

If the Upper Mississippi River Flood Control Act becomes law, it would require the Army Corps of Engineers to submit a flood plan to Congress by 2021.

It also promises to give a voice to those who have a stake in the land effected.

"There's 115,000 acres of land total, […] there's homes, businesses, parts of two towns, and two railroads, and interstate highway, two u-s highways all cross through the Sny," said Upper Mississippi, Illinois, & Missouri River Association (UMIMRA) Vice Chairman Jim Koeller.

He said his family has lived in the Sny Levee District for generations.

Koeller said right now, the various levee and drainage districts don't work together to make sure what one does doesn't negatively impact the other.

"There is a plan on the lower Mississippi River, but there's not a plan on how to handle and convey a major flood through the upper Mississippi and Illinois River valleys," said Koeller.

UMIMRA Chair Mike Klingner said this legislation will also benefit cities protected by levees like the one in Hannibal as well.

"There's a hundred and forty levee districts in the upper Mississippi and none of those have been able to make significant improvements, very few of them have been able to make improvements since the 1954 flood control act," said Klingner.

Klingner said if the legislation became law, it would open up funding and make way for improvements to be made to all kinds of levees.

"So this would allow us to make some permanent improvements instead of this push up push down scenario we've been dealing with," said Klingner.

Koeller said passing legislation like this is critical for protecting communities and farm lands.

"It's not me vs them, that's not the theme here, the theme is we need better flood control here on the upper Mississippi and Illinois river," said Koeller.

Klingner said they're working on getting more support for the bill from other districts along the Mississippi.

He said Illinois Congressman Darin Lahood has already co-sponsored the bill which was introduced to congress by Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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