Conservationists have been cursing the American dam-building mentality for years. Now, at a small Nebraskan?
SV Traffic along main street, Niobrara.
SV Man in doorway
SV Man along street carrying cane
GV EXT House which is sinking
SV Water pumped from basement of same house
SV Man adjusts bailing pump PAN TO pipe through window into basement
SV Water pours from pipe
GV PAN River to sandbank
GTV River and sandbanks (3 shots)
GTV Farm-land near river underwater (2 shots)
SV Children's playground under water (2 shots)
GV Countryside and over-flowing river (2 shots)
Initials BB/2150 TH/AS/BB/2202
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Conservationists have been cursing the American dam-building mentality for years. Now, at a small Nebraskan town called Niobrara, they have some heavy ammunition to fire at the dam-builders. A barrage across the Missouri river, built purposely to prevent flooding, is having the reverse effect. The township is being slowly but steadily drowned by rising waters.
The trouble is that silt once carried downstream is now building up, trapped by the dam, and raising the water level of the entire valley. This film takes a look at Niobrara, where good farmland has been turned into mosquito marshes and where the pumps work full time to bale water out of house basements.
SYNOPSIS: The small Nebraskan township of Niobrara may well go down in American history as the town that sent out an S.O.S. Like a ship in distress, Niobrara is slowly sinking, drowned by the waters of the nearby Missouri River.
To have a house with a basement here is to have a flooding problem. Yet when this house was built fifty years ago, it was on firm ground. Now half the homes in the town also have to keep pumps running full time.
Sandbanks on the Missouri River are the source of the trouble. A few years ago the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam to control flooding a short distance downstream. Niobrara was supposed to be well above the level of the water. And so it was at first. Then the silt built up, raising the water level and turning good farmland into mosquito swamps. Local people want the town relocated. But Congress hasn't allocated them any money to move, and at present the town seems doomed by the rising waters.