Flooding victims in several states to sue feds for 2011 disaster

WESTON, Mo. - Water marks still tell the story on Bob Baker's machine shed outside Weston, Mo., nearly two years after historic flooding. Now, Baker and thousands of flood victims along the Missouri River may have a way to recover their losses.

Floodwaters lingered on Baker's farmland all summer long in 2011, and he's still recovering to this day.

"I guess we'll be farming around sand piles for the foreseeable future," he said.

Baker estimates he has spent half a million dollars removing sand from his fields and repairing buildings.

"There's a lot of people that were hurt a lot worse than I was," Baker said. "A lot of people lost everything."

That's why Baker is encouraged by news of a lawsuit against the federal government.

St. Joseph attorney Ed Murphy said a December ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court found the federal government is not automatically exempt from paying for damage caused by temporary flooding from its dams.

The 2011 flooding originated from a big snow melt in Montana coupled with heavy rains. A system of dams upriver is designed to prevent widespread flooding.

Those affected like Baker argue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mismanaged the dam system, which led to the unnecessary flooding of thousands of farms, homes and businesses.

Baker hopes to be part of the lawsuit, but said even if he never collects a penny, at the very least it will send a message to the Army Corps.

"If it would wake them up a little bit and realize how many lives they've effected, that'd be worth quite a bit," Baker said.

Victims from five states including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota may all be part of this soon-to-be-filed federal lawsuit.

The National Weather Service estimates the flooding caused at least $85 million in direct damages and took five lives.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to 41 Action News' phone calls for comment.

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