Landowners along Missouri River Sue Corps for Flooding - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

Landowners along Missouri River Sue Corps for Flooding

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FORT CALHOUN, Neb. (KPTM)-  Farmers in five different states, including Nebraska, filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday.

Lawyers said the corps has intentionally flooded hundreds of acres of farmland since 2004 after it changed its policy on flood control and conservation.

"Every year the risk of flooding has gone up because the corps has made a decision to promote the interest of fish and wildlife," said lawyer for plaintiffs, Edwin Smith.

Smith said the Corps is in the process of trying to restore the Missouri river banks to what they were before flood control started in the 1940s in order to save endangered fish and wildlife.  Smith said by doing that, the engineers at the Corps have caused flooding all along the Missouri.

"They turned their backs on flood control for fish and wildlife. They knew when they did it you were going to get this kind of flooding," said Smith.

A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers said they do not comment on pending litigation.

For farmers Kelli and Jeff Shaner, the 2011 flood was one of many they've had to work through.

"Think about losing a crop for 2010, the entire crop in 2011, having it impact you in 2008 and 2013 as well," said Jeff.

There is a levee on the edge of Jeff's property that holds back the Missouri River. Since it was destroyed in 2011, it has been replaced, but a large chunk of it is lower than the rest.  Smith said that is one step the corps is taking to restore the Missouri River, but it's also letting more water than ever on Shaner's land.

"Why did the flood of 1993 only last 14 days and the flood of 2011 lasted 100 days? I'll tell you why, because the corps' changes had not occurred in 1993," said Smith.

The Shaner's said they joined the lawsuit in February, but now there are around 200 people have also joined the lawsuit.

"The government cannot take our private property for the good of the public unless they give us compensation," said Smith.

"It has not only an impact on my family, but my community, my community being Fort Calhoun, my community being the state of Nebraska- Washington County.  Every dollar that I spend trickles and goes to somebody else," said Jeff Shaner.

Shaner said the water from the 2011 flood lasted around 100 days, but the sand it left behind has made it hard for his crops to grow and equipment to function.

"Three years later and we've been working," said Shaner. "Constantly working on it, and we're not done yet."

Smith said more farmers may also join the lawsuit.

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