Osage County farmer says bridge increased flood damage

One farmer is considering his next move Thursday after debris buildup at a nearby bridge forced floodwaters onto his land and destroyed most of his corn crop.

George Luebbering told KRCG 13 a concrete bridge over the Maries River trapped debris as it moved downstream during this week's floods. He said this backed up the flooding river and forced water onto his land, inundating almost half of the 200 acres he devotes to cropland. This marks the second time this year the bridge has aggravated flooding on Luebbering's land. As KRCG 13 has previously reported, Luebbering has said he loses about 8 inches of topsoil each time this happens. He said his corn plants held the topsoil down this time, but the waters' current flattened the plants.

"The flood was bad enough as it is, but the bridge made it a whole lot worse," he said.

Luebbering said the bridge's design allows it to trap debris easily. He said the bridge is too low for debris to flow under it but too high for debris to flow over it.

MoDOT was one of the agencies in charge of building the bridge in 2011. MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester said the agency is considering removing the bridge but has not made any final decisions on what to do. In the meantime, he said Osage County is responsible for removing any debris, though he added MoDOT can assist if the county asks. Osage County's Roads and Bridges Department did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Luebbering said he is considering suing MoDOT for the damage the bridge has caused to his farm. He said he does not have enough land to make a profit after losing so much to floodwaters.

"I can't afford the damage the bridge is causing me," he said.