Cost from river flooding already tops $1 billion, and that’s just for levee damage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are estimating that it will take two years and more than $1 billion to restore the damage caused to levees along the Missouri and Platte rivers from flooding this year.

And that number is likely to go up.

“I want to emphasize that number will change once we get boots on the ground and we are able to actually look at the levees that are damaged and can assess what it takes to repair those,” said Tom Brady, program manager for flood control and coastal emergencies for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Widespread rain this spring in the Midwest and snow melt runoff from major winter storms in the northern Great Plains have led to some of the worst flooding along the Missouri River basin since 2011. In the Kansas City region, levees in the eastern Jackson County town of Levasy have breached and flooding has submerged portions of Parkville.

Brady said the Army Corps of Engineers has received 100 eligible requests for assistance in making repairs to damage along 850 miles of levees on the Missouri and Platte rivers. Some requests for assistance have not yet been received, particularly in eastern Missouri where levee damage is relatively recent, Brady said.

The Missouri River begins in Montana and meanders through 10 states, including Kansas and Missouri where it runs through Kansas City, before flowing into the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. The Platte River is a tributary in Nebraska that flows into the Missouri River.

Flooding continues to afflict rivers in Kansas, including the Black Vermillion and Big Blue rivers, as well as the Grand and Osage rivers in Missouri.

— The Kansas City Star

Red tide still killing dolphins off the coast of Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s been six months since Florida was officially red tide free, but the effects of the last breakout can still be seen in an increased dolphin mortality rate, according to a report by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

The NOAA reported 174 dolphins have died between July 2018 and June 20, 2019, in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

The NOAA declared the increased deaths an “unusual mortality event.”

Researchers have confirmed through necropsy examinations that several samples tested positive for the red tide toxin, also known as dinoflagellate karenia brevis, indicating that the latest algae bloom around Florida’s coasts is related to the “UME.”

Red tide hit its stride last year during October and November when algae blooms were found in high concentrations on the west, east and panhandle coasts, causing the death of marine life and respiratory infections.

Red tide exposure has caused an “unusual mortality event” in the past, too, the NOAA said.

A red tide outbreak between 2005 and 2006 along the Southwest Florida coast killed 190 dolphins, the NOAA said.

— Orlando Sentinel

Kevin Spacey hit with civil lawsuit by man who claims actor groped him

Scandal-plagued actor Kevin Spacey has been hit with a civil lawsuit by the man accusing the film star of groping him at a Massachusetts bar.

Spacey is currently in the middle of a criminal case stemming from that same allegation, which the actor denies.

The new lawsuit accuses Spacey, 59, of giving the accuser alcohol at a Nantucket bar in 2016 before “touching and fondling” his genitals, The Boston Globe reported.

Spacey faces sexual misconduct allegations from a number of men.

— N.Y. Daily News

2 senators want Major League Baseball to extend foul ball netting at all parks

WASHINGTON — Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Tammy Duckworth want Major League Baseball to expand netting to protect fans from foul balls across the entirety of the major leagues.

“The Los Angeles Dodgers are conducting a study and plan to announce an extension plan in the coming weeks. Also, the Texas Rangers’ new stadium will have this important feature,” the senators wrote. “MLB and every team should expedite plans to extend netting to further protect fans. As several teams have demonstrated, these safety improvements don’t have to wait until next season.”

The safety questions raised in the Duckworth and Durbin letter Thursday point to the danger of baseballs entering the stands, even when hit off wooden bats.

“Players are hitting balls with a velocity of more than 100 miles per hour onto the field and into the seated areas,” the senators wrote.

“We appreciate the efforts MLB and individual teams have taken so far for the safety of fans,” Durbin and Duckworth continued. “However, it is clear the current extended netting is not sufficient to protect fans from serious injury or death. We hope all teams will follow the leadership of the White Sox, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers in this matter.”

— CQ-Roll Call