Recent Op-Eds

Missouri River Flood Update

Senator John Thune

June 17, 2011

The devastating flood situation along the Missouri River continues to affect thousands of South Dakotans. As the flood situation has grown worse over the past several weeks, my staff and I have been in constant contact with state, local, and federal officials to ensure that all measures necessary to protect lives and property have been and will continue to be taken.

I have now personally engaged with all levels of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leadership. Most recently, I organized a meeting in my Washington, D.C. office with several Midwestern Senators and the acting head of the Corps, Major General Bo Temple. During my frank discussion with Major General Temple, I received an assurance from him that channels of communication with all levels of Corps management will be open going forward, especially as we look to future flood protection and accountability. Additionally, I reiterated my expectation that the current river management practices detailed in the Corps' Master Manual, a document that has been used since 2004 to oversee Missouri River management, will be extensively reevaluated and adjusted where necessary.

In the coming week, I have scheduled a meeting with Brigadier General John McMahon, the Corps' Northwestern division head. As in my previous meetings, I plan to express the concerns I have heard from impacted South Dakotans and make sure that my staff and I receive adequate follow up to address such concerns.

After the current emergency situation subsides, I am committed to making sure that the Corps answers tough questions on the causes of this historic flood and reevaluates their current Missouri River management guidelines. The circumstances facing the people who live in the towns along the Missouri River are unacceptable and should never be allowed to happen again. Although we need to stay focused on the immediate emergency now, the time for the Corps to be held to account for what has happened will arrive in the coming weeks and months. 

As I have frequently remarked, the strength of South Dakotans continues to emerge through this difficult time in our state's history. Kimberley and I continue to keep those affected by the rising water levels along the Missouri River in our thoughts and prayers.