Grassley criticizes Corps of Engineers for handling of water releases

WASHINGTON — Leaders of water-inundated towns in southwest Iowa are blaming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for blundering decisions that may have contributed to the region’s widespread flooding.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he “absolutely” will call for an inquiry into the Corps’ actions, like ordering the town of Hamburg to remove reinforcements from a levee which protected the town in the 2011 floods. “When a town was trying to help themselves and then have to take protection down and then get flooded like they have now, where it’s probably worse than it was in 2011,” Grassley says, “we have to have a complete review of the manual that governs all that.”

The Corps is also being criticized for having radically boosted releases recently from Gavins Point Dam upriver on the Missouri River and for now vowing to cut back the flow when the damage is already done. Critics say it’s far too little, too late.”Now that this flooding is taking place, to have the Corps say that some of the dams, that they’re going to shut down releases right now as the flooding is happening, not being on top of it ahead of time, trying to anticipate things,” Grassley says. “It’s ridiculous.”

Defenders of the Corps’ actions say it was the perfect storm of conditions that brought the unstoppable flooding, with frozen soil, a deep snowpack that melted quickly, and heavy rain showers. Grassley disagrees and says the Corps’ should have known better.”Anticipating weather ahead of time, they just didn’t take that into consideration,” Grassley says. “The tremendous rain and storms they recently had in Nebraska is a perfect example of being out in front of it instead of always being behind the curve.”

Grassley says the Corps’ river management priority list includes several elements, like maintaining water levels for commercial and recreational boating, when he says the number-one concern should be flood prevention.