ROCK PORT, Mo. (KMTV) — After devastating flooding hit Missouri two years ago, Gov. Mike Parson had questions: How are we going to put the pieces back together and how can we prevent this from happening again?
"This is a big river, stretches a lot of miles, we got to do a better job of trying to maintain it and making sure we can control what we can of the river," Gov. Parson said.
That control will look like this: setting the levee back: it is a project bringing multiple people to the table like landowners, state and federal government, and nonprofits. Parson calls this a "success story."
"What we want to do is prevent this from happening in the future, and I think this is exactly the model we are able to use, and again, it's about partnerships, it's about relationships," Parson said.
Ryan Ottmann, President of the Atchison County Levee District No. 1, is helping spearhead this effort to prevent history from repeating itself.
"Don't be satisfied with 'Just keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results,' look into different ways, they may seem hard but they are attainable," Ottmann said.
He admits there were challenges working on this project.
"The levee district itself is responsible for land for borrows and real estate for setbacks, that's just the footprint of the levee. When you set a levee back, you take in a bunch of land that was dry side of the levee and now is water side of the levee, you have to find a way to compensate those landowners and purchase," Ottmann said.
It took a big effort to get those landowners whole again. But for Ottmann and Gov. Parson, setting the levee back is not only protecting the community from flooding, it's also secure a future.
"But I also know sometimes you got to do the better good for other people as you move forward," Gov. Parson said.
The levee is expected to be complete by mid to late summer.