The floodwaters gave little time for farmers in parts of Nebraska and Iowa to move from the area. Many of the livestock, as well as last year’s harvest had to be left behind. Now as they watch the waters recede from their property, they can’t even conceive of being able to stay in business.
Throughout parts of the Midwest, hundreds of livestock are drowned or stranded; valuable unsold, stored grain is ruined in submerged storage bins; and fields are like lakes. There is significant doubt on whether they can be planted this year.
“I would say 50% of the farmers in our area will not recover from this,” Dustin Sheldon, a farmer in southwestern Iowa’s flood-devastated Fremont County near the swollen Missouri River, said this week.
Floodwaters rose after a bomb cyclone dropped heavy rain and snow last week, and as previous snow and ice melted.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said that this the “most widespread disaster we have had in our state’s history.” Officials expect their initial farm damage estimates — $400 million in damages to crops, and $400 million in lost livestock, will be exceeded, Nebraska Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Christin Kamm said.
In Iowa, after Gov. Kim Reynolds flew over flooded farms in a helicopter, she said she could see only the tops of grain bins sticking out of what looked like an ocean.
Farmers and ranchers have been especially hard hit. In rural eastern Nebraska, farmer Eric Alberts said that about 700 of his hogs drowned, many in his barn. He was trying to move his animals when the waters started rising last week.
“Within 30 minutes, we had over 2 feet of water come through the front barn, and just swells were coming, and we barely made it out of here,” leaving most of the animals behind.
This is just one story that may be multiplied by hundreds.