Trump Gives Aid for Huge Farm Belt Flooding; Wieczorek Urges U.S. Must Join Belt and Road
March 25, 2019 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump on March 23 granted federal disaster aid status for 56 of Iowa’s 99 counties, after granting the same to Nebraska on March 21, for relief from the huge Missouri River system flooding. More such disaster declarations will be coming as the flooding continues downriver in the Missouri-Mississippi Basin. This area includes an important part of the U.S. farm belt, which especially grows corn, soy, cattle and hogs.
Full damage assessment is still not possible. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Contingency Director toured much of the Nebraska-Iowa-South Dakota Missouri River region by helicopter beginning March 20, and emergency work is now proceeding in key places. In Nebraska alone, for example, there are 350 miles of levees along the Missouri, Platte, and Elkhorn Rivers, and their tributaries, which have experienced major breaches.
Mount Vernon, South Dakota farm leader Ron Wieczorek, who ran as an independent for his state’s Congressional seat in 2018, sent a message to his networks this weekend about the flooding and farm crisis. The LaRouchePAC-endorsed candidate said: “The only engine powerful enough to stop the farm crisis is for President Trump to bring the U.S.A. into the One Belt, One Road—100 nations are already on board, and we have a standing invitation to join.” Building infrastructure corridors of development in the Americas—disaster protection, modern rail, nuclear power—is the context in which all the apparently insoluble conflicts we face in this hemisphere can be resolved, from the suffering of migrants, to resolving Venezuela’s productive future, not British regime-change and conflict.
During the course of the flooding disaster, one positive feature stands out: big infrastructure works. The Nebraska Cooper nuclear power station is operating safely at full power, at its site in Brownville, along the Missouri River. In South Dakota, the Gavins Point Dam and power generation plant are operating fully on the Missouri River. The 1957 structure in addition is providing a critical river crossing, via the Crest Road over the dam, while the nearby Highway 121 bridge is undergoing flood repair. This connectivity is critical for the region.
These examples are part of what was to be an integrated system of water, power, and development projects for the entire Missouri River Basin, but it was never fully built out. In 1944 the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Project was approved by Congress, named after its two engineer designers, Gen. Lewis A. Pick and William Glenn Sloan. When completed, it was to have 147 dams and reservoirs for flood control and other purposes, 38 hydropower plants, a navigation channel 9 feet deep by 300 feet wide, from St. Louis on the Mississippi, up to Sioux City, Iowa, and continuous levees for 1,500 miles. (See EIR, June 10, 2011, “No More Floods! Build the Missouri River Development Project.”)
Only a portion of Pick-Sloan Project was ever built. It was Blocked, as was the North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) project to upgrade the resource base all across western North America.