Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Farmers Face End-of-Month Aid Deadline Government Help Needed to Fix Levees, Clear Drainage Ditches

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Farmers Face End-of-Month Aid Deadline Government Help Needed to Fix Levees, Clear Drainage Ditches

Article excerpt

Farmers who are looking for government aid to clean ditches and rebuild levees damaged in the flood have until the end of the month to apply.

Many of the ditches in flood-prone areas of the county are filled to the top with sediment, sand and other debris. If they are not cleared, the crops that are planted later could rot from standing water. Those who are not farmers would be affected, too. When the next round of flooding hits, motorists will find that the roadways are more likely to be impassable if the water has no place to run off.

Already, applications have been received for help in unclogging 78 miles of drainage ditches in St. Charles County, says Renee Phillips of the Soil Conservation Service.

"Some of the ditches are six-foot deep and bankful with sediment and sand," said Phillips.

She said other stretches have two or three feet of sediment in them and still others are clear except for an occasional plug.

Phillips said that most of the affected ditches are in the northern part of the county in an area bordered by Highway 79 on the west, the city of St. Charles on the south and the two rivers on the north and east. A few of the ditches are in Greens Bottoms in the Harvester area, in Darst Bottoms in the Defiance area and in the Hancock Bottoms in the Augusta area.

The ditches run between fields as well as along roadways. Even though they are on private land, the government usually provides help in cleaning them when a natural disaster occurs, says Phillips.

The last time such help was made available was after the flooding in 1986. At that point, St. Charles County landowners had little trouble in getting aid because so much of the flooding occurred in this area. But this time, because the flooding hit many areas of the state, there will be more competition for the federal aid, Phillips says.

About $15 million is available throughout the state through the Emergency Watershed Protection fund. The money is not only for unclogging ditches, but repairing farm levees, halting stream-bank erosion and breaking up logjams, says Ross Braun, director of the Soil Conservation Service's Emergency Operations Center in Columbia. …

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