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Official: Community must work together to repair levees

Monday, February 21, 2005

Working together as a community is the best option farmers in Clay County who are suffering from flood damage or weakened levees have, said Michael Layman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Outreach Coordinator.

"The more partners you have in this and the more you can work together as a community, the better off you'll be," Layman told a crowd of 20 Thursday.

Local farmers gathered in the Orange Building in Clay City to discuss the state of the levees throughout Clay County.

Layman said farmers should sign up for the relief waiting list or figure something out themselves. He told the group yesterday that he knows of communities in Kentucky where farmers have been on the waiting list a year.

Farmer Tim Persinger helped organize the meeting along with Doris Scully of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Persinger said the poor condition of the levees isn't due soley to the recent flooding, it is also from previous floods.

The levee problem isn't a matter of what to do, he said.

"We know how we can fix the problems, we just don't have the money to fix it," Persinger said.

Layman said his organization briefs Congress three to four times a year. He delivers copies of the waiting list for damages.

"They're well aware of the issues," but there is only so much they can do with limited funding, he said.

Locally, if communities combine their resources and bring the levees up to Indiana core standards, the next time they fall apart, the state will pay 80 percent of the replacement costs, Layman said.

Persinger said he sees that idea as a problem.

"There's not many people who's got a hundred thousand dollars in their back pocket," he said.

Erosion is another factor that's playing into the flooding. Persinger said he's seen 35 to 40 acres go down river.

The levees shift about every 10 years or less pushing the erosion back 40 to 60 feet into farm land, he said.

"We've got to stop the erosion from the river," he said.

Scully said she sees a solution in the way levee associations tax members. Some associations tax the people who live closer to the river more than those further away helping the people whose property is flooded with repairs.

Regardless of the solution, she agreed, "We really need to come together as a community. It could be a long term project."

Scully said she is hopeful a compromise can be reached between farmers and the government, however, it's difficult to get one levee association to agree on something let alone all of them. should sign up for the relief waiting list or figure something out themselves. He told the group yesterday that he knows of communities in Kentucky where farmers have been on the waiting list a year.

Farmer Tim Persinger helped organize the meeting along with Doris Scully of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Persinger said the poor condition of the levees isn't due solely to the recent flooding, it is also from previous floods.

The levee problem isn't a matter of what to do, he said.

"We know how we can fix the problems, we just don't have the money to fix it," Persinger said.

Layman said his organization briefs Congress three to four times a year. He delivers copies of the waiting list for damages.

"They're well aware of the issues," but there is only so much they can do with limited funding, he said.

Locally, if communities combine their resources and bring the levees up to Indiana standards, the next time they fall apart, the state will pay 80 percent of the replacement costs, Layman said.

Persinger said he sees that idea as a problem.

"There's not many people who's got a hundred thousand dollars in their back pocket," he said.

Erosion is another factor that's playing into the flooding. Persinger said he's seen 35 to 40 acres go down river.

The levees shift about every 10 years or less, pushing the erosion back 40 to 60 feet into farm land, he said.

"We've got to stop the erosion from the river," he said.

Scully said she sees a solution in the way levee associations tax members. Some associations tax the people who live closer to the river more than those farther away, helping the people whose property is flooded with repairs.

Regardless of the solution, she agreed, "We really need to come together as a community. It could be a long-term project."

Scully said she is hopeful a compromise can be reached between farmers and the government. However, it's difficult to get one levee association to agree on something, let alone all of them.



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