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McCaskill will watch Army Corps' management of Missouri River closely

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill says she and her colleagues will take a close look at the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing the Missouri River at the end of the flooding season.

Rising waters have already forced evacuations in the Dakotas and Iowa. The floods are due partly to the release of water from huge reservoirs located near the headwaters of the river.

McCaskill says every year, there are questions about the Corps' decision. But overall, she says the agency has done the right things this year.

"We all were very upset at blowing the levee at Birds Point,  but if you look downriver by and large, while there was still flooding, they managed to avoid some of the catastrophes that could have occurred," McCaskill said.

A spokesman for the Corps of Engineers says five of the six upstream reservoirs could no longer hold any more water. He says the agency held back releasing the water as long as they could to relieve some of the earlier flooding in southeast Missouri.

McCaskill is also taking issue with her fellow senator's explanation for the deterioration of the country's flood protection system.

On a conference call Tuesday, Republican Roy Blunt said most levee repair projects were earmarks - and the November 2010 ban has made it tough for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the funds they need.

On her own call Wednesday, McCaskill had the exact opposite view.

"The Corps has been handcuffed by special projects that have been dictated by Congress, and hasn't been allowed to prioritize the projects that they need to prioritize for management of these river systems. The earmarking has gotten in the way."

There have also been voluntary evacuations in parts of Missouri in preparation for the Missouri River flooding.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.