U.S. Senator Roy Blunt's extra work to boost relief for Missouri disaster victims paid off last week when the U.S. Senate passed his amendment and included it in the FY2012 spending bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.
Blunt's amendment will add $400 million to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in order to aid with disaster relief efforts:
"There is still a lot of work to be done, but this amendment is a critical step forward to make sure Joplin and the communities along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers have the resources they need in order to rebuild," Blunt said. "My belief is that the original number of roughly $6 billion for disaster assistance will be the number that's needed and the number that's ultimately appropriated between now and the end of the year.
"My first priority is finding the best way possible to make sure this funding is available for the families, farmers, and communities that were impacted by a number of natural disasters in Missouri this year. That's why I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to determine how we can get that done."
One of the nation's deadliest, the F-5 tornado in Joplin on May 22 destroyed more than 7,000 homes and businesses in the southwest Missouri community. The storm injured more than 1,150 people and the death toll now stands at 162 people.
Missouri River floodplain areas of northwest Missouri were flooded all summer after levees were breached by too much water released from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota and other upper Missouri River dams. The flood control system was compromised by heavy snowpack followed by heavy spring rains in the Northern Plains and late response by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in lowering the water levels.
Floodplain farmers have lost their farms for at least a year -- cropland, homesteads and all. No damage assessments have been released yet, but flood estimates are for 78,000 acres in Atchison County and 165,000 acres in Holt County.
The corps' blowing of the levee at Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway last spring devastated crops in the Bootheel along the Mississippi River. The breach inundated 133,000 acres of Delta farmland. The initial agricultural economic loss is estimated at $156.7 million, according to the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.