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Flooding creates problems but brings good will

A lot of northwest Missouri farmers had to scramble to get livestock, grain and hay out of way of rising water. Atchison County farmer Richard Oswald was among those surprised by the rapid increase in flows following a dam failure in Nebraska.

“I think Monday morning nobody in my area really suspected anything like this was going to happen,” Oswald told Brownfield Ag News, “the first reaction is disbelief ‘that can’t be right, the river’s going to go from 30 feet to 48 feet in a couple of days, that can’t be right; that’s just not right,’ but it became apparent that it was right.”

The additional challenge is the difficulty in moving what had to be taken to higher ground.

“The problem that we had was our roads were in such awful shape from such a hard and long winter that some roads just weren’t passable to trucks,” said Oswald, “and that’s what my situation was, I had 20,000 bushels trapped at my farm and I really didn’t have any hope to get that out any other way than to grain cart it two miles to the highway.”

Even though floods bring the worst in natural disasters, they bring out the best in people, according to Oswald. He had to evacuate his own place and joined others who were helping his daughter and son-in-law move livestock out of the path of the rising Missouri River.

“There were ten trailers that neighbors had brought in to help them move and we were able to get that 80 head of cows and calves in about two-and-a-half hours and that was really neat to have all that help and have neighbors come in and do that,” said Oswald. “And then they pitched in and moved all their hay for them too, so they saved their hay supply as well.”

Oswald is quick to admit he hates floods – the struggle to prepare and the clean-up afterward – and because of his location, he’s lived through a lot of them, but his heart is warmed by the good will of the community.

“I can’t tell you the number of people that came out just to check and see if there was anything they can do,” said Oswald. “The owner of the local auto parts store brought us food and gasoline for transfer pumps. I mean guys just drive up in a pick-up and bale out and start grabbing things and loading them on trucks for you. It’s amazing.”

The cows – many with new calves – were threatened by a levy failure nearby. Oswald says even the upcoming planting season is in question for many of farmers in that area.

“I think it’s going to be a month before this water’s all gone,” said Oswald. “Even once the river drops it’s going to take a good long time for that water to drain out of the fields and then pick-up and clean-up will start, and I don’t think there’s going to be much time to get a crop in, but we’ll see.”

AUDIO: Richard Oswald

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