Catastrophic Midwestern flooding costing farmers $1 billion and counting

Nearly two-thirds of the lower-48 are at increased risk of flooding this spring, according to the National Weather Service. Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service

EVANSVILLE, Ind., March 21 (UPI) —¬†Catastrophic flooding across the central Midwest has wiped out livestock and probably will prevent farmers from planting this spring.

Thousands of livestock were killed, and many more are expected to die from lack of food and water. The Nebraska Beef Cattlemen’s Association alone estimated the lost livestock was alone worth $400 million.

Moreover, the flooding will likely prevent farmers from planting this spring, costing an estimated $440 million more, according to an application for expedited federal disaster assistance in Nebraska.

“This is a huge impact to Nebraska’s primary industry,” the application said.

The flooding has mainly hit Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. On March 12, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts declared a state of emergency, and on March 19 he applied for expedited disaster assistance from the federal government.

Besides the impact the farms, the flooding has killed three people, and caused more than $500 million in damages to infrastructure, homes and businesses.

“This number will change dramatically as these are preliminary numbers and many areas are still under water or inaccessible,” according to the application.

This flooding event was caused by a combination of rapid snowmelt in the region combined by heavy spring rain, according to the National Weather Service. In some areas, river ice jams are exacerbating the flooding.

“Additional spring rain and melting snow will prolong and expand flooding, especially in the central and southern U.S.,” the NWS said in a statement. “As this excess water flows downstream through the river basins, the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread.”

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