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Mike Pence goes to Nebraska for Trump as US Midwest reels from historic floods

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Vice President Mike Pence in Nebraska on Tuesday took stock of the devastation unleashed across the U.S. Midwest by floods that have killed four people, left one missing and caused more than a billion dollars in damage to crops, livestock and roads.

“I never fail to be inspired by moments like this. The way communities come together and people volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way to help others,” Pence said Tuesday in Omaha, according to an official statement.

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Pence also said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to expedite a request from Nebraska’s governor for a federal emergency declaration, which will provide more aid to the state.

The floodwaters have inundated a large swath of farm states Iowa and Nebraska along the Missouri River, North America’s longest river, prompting half of Iowa’s 99 counties to declare states of emergency.

“The hearts of the American people are with those who have been impacted across the Midwest!” Pence said in the tweet earlier Tuesday.

Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have all declared states of emergency in the floods, which stem from a powerful winter hurricane known as a “bomb cyclone” that slammed into the U.S. Farm Belt last week, killing untold numbers of livestock, destroying grains and soybeans in storage, and cutting off access to farms because of road and rail damage.

The latest confirmed death was identified by the sheriff in Fremont County, Iowa, as 55-year-old Aleido Rojas Galan, who was pulled from floodwaters along with another man on Friday and later succumbed to injuries.

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A Nebraska man who has been missing since the collapse of the Spencer Dam last week on the Niobrara River was identified by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper as Kenny Angel.

Authorities said they had rescued nearly 300 people in Nebraska alone, with some rivers continuing to rise.

Rescuers could be seen in boats pulling pets from flooded homes. Some roadways crumbled to rubble, while sections of others were submerged. In Hamburg, Iowa, floodwaters covered buildings.

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In Brownville, Nebraska, floodwaters lapped at the edge of the small town of 132 people, closing the main bridge across the Missouri River.

$1 BILLION IN DAMAGE
“It’s a lot worse than I’ve ever seen it,” said Malina Wheeldon, who went ahead with the scheduled opening of her new Euphoric Soul Salon & Boutique business despite the floods. Her husband, Justin, who grew up in Brownville, agreed, saying he had lived through the floods of 1993, 2010 and 2011.

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“About every five years now, we have a 100-year flood,” he said.

The Missouri was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14.5 m) on Tuesday, breaking its 2011 record by more than a foot (31 cm), the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said. The flooding was expected to continue through Thursday.

Nebraska officials estimated more than $1 billion in flood damage for the state’s agricultural sector so far, according to Craig Head, vice president of issue management at the Nebraska Farm Bureau. Head said the number was expected to grow as floodwaters recede.

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“It’s really too early to know for sure how bad this is going to get. But one thing we do know: It’s catastrophic for farmers,” said Matt Perdue, government relations director for the National Farmers Union trade group. “We’re hoping it’s only $1 billion, but that’s only a hope.”

Nebraska officials estimate the floods have caused $553 million in damage to public infrastructure and other assets, as well as $89 million in privately owned assets, according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday.

The water also covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is distributing 400,000 sandbags to operators of 12 levees along the Missouri River in Missouri and Kansas that were in danger of being breached by floodwaters, the Army Corps said in a news release on Tuesday.

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In Niobrara, Nebraska, south of the Missouri River near the border with South Dakota, Mayor Jody Stark said flooding that began on Thursday had devastated his community of 350 people, with businesses being the hardest hit.

“Our road system is shot pretty much in every direction coming into town,” Stark said.

The water also covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is distributing 400,000 sandbags to operators of 12 levees along the Missouri River in Missouri and Kansas that were in danger of being breached by floodwaters, the Army Corps said in a news release on Tuesday.

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In Niobrara, Nebraska, south of the Missouri River near the border with South Dakota, Mayor Jody Stark said flooding that began on Thursday had devastated his community of 350 people, with businesses being the hardest hit.

“Our road system is shot pretty much in every direction coming into town,” Stark said.


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Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them

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In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.

"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."

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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

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“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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