Remember, this was about a month after environmental activist Bernard Shanks published a guest commentary on the St. Louis Today website outlining his fear of a “domino effect” on the Missouri River System. His nightmare scenario began with the failure of the Fort Peck Dam. While his article was very timely, it also coincided with one other important event: his publishing a book on the theory. I doubt that was a coincidence, but the whole thing gained a lot of traction in the Dakotas as we were already learning not to trust the Corps. Mr. Shanks appeared on local radio and links to his article were flying around Facebook rather furiously.
Naturally the last thing I wanted to do was contribute to any hype, so I just sat on my little discovery. I don’t deal in sensationalism and reliable information was already hard to come by in weary communities already made nervous by the fluidity of facts. Therefore I resolved to wait until the flood waters had receded and the threat of Mr. Shanks’ domino effect abated with them. I’ve watched as the river levels have fallen past the 9.79 feet of January 1st, 2011 and settled in the six-and-a-half foot range. While I think the event is certainly noteworthy, I certainly don’t think it was worth hysteria.
Here are a couple of links to the event for the curious. Its ID is event 11948206 for those of you who want to dart straight to Google for your own research.
Now let’s hope that the management of the Missour River System doesn’t put us in the same precarious position next year. In the unfortunate event that we find ourselves in a flood fight again, I hope the Corps will be more forthcoming and that people will resist the urge to play loose & fast with information. Events like this are far harder to endure when sensationalism runs amok as well.