Record-breaking flooding could cost Iowa $2 billion

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - March runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin broke the 1952 record.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said runoff covered 11 million acre-feet. Well above the previous record of 7.3 million acre-feet. Acre-feet describe an acre of ground with a foot deep of water. The average runoff tends to be about 2.9 million acre-feet.

The Army Corps of Engineers said the record runoff caused two to four inches of rain falling on snowpack, which led to rapid melting on frozen, saturated soils.

The Corps plans to increase releases from flood control reservoirs.

The Iowa Farm Bureau said the state may see more than $2 billion in damages from flooding in the state. That's nearly $400 million more than the estimate from the governor's office.

The bureau took estimated forward cost sales to try and see the total economic impact to rural communities than to the state of Iowa.

Dr. Sam Funk with Iowa Farm Bureau said their analysis looked beyond the cost of lost crops.

"[We're] also looking at other activities such as lost labor income, looking at lost sales that might take place for what those farm families would normally buy in a year," he said.

Funk said the damage is bigger than other flooding events and will likely last longer. Even more flooding anticipated from the Mississippi River has not hit yet.

Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley are trying to help farms dealing with floods, particularly trying to add grain ruined in storage to disaster assistance programs.

Funk said for some farmers, losing stored grain could be devastating. Combined with losing this year's income because of field damage and the troubled farm economy, it will be a tough time, even with aid.

"Federal disaster assistance can only cover so much. And typically, it's a direct loss from something they can try to recover from. They won't cover some of those lost crops that were in the bins, they won't be able to handle some of those aspects," he said. "They're going to depend on crop insurance potentially for prevented planting, but what do you do if it was going to take you longer than a year to recover and be able to regain those grounds?"