The report on the 2011 Souris River flood released to the public this week by the International Souris River Board is a massive document, containing a number of charts, graphs and recommendations.
We're glad the report has been made public, although it should have been done when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initially presented the report to the ISRB on Feb. 22.
There are items that stand out in the report, but one concerning aspect is repeated references and recommendations on how to "manage" information released to the public, including these statements:
-"Deliberations between regulators and forecasters on daily forecasts should not be done in a public forum."
-"Don't let press conferences drive our release of info."
While we understand the need to provide accurate information, the Corps' report seems to be lacking concern for providing information to those who are potentially in harm's way. Just one extra day to evacuate last June would have saved homeowners thousands, as well as valued personal treasures.?In the case of such disasters, timely and accurate information must be provided to the media and the public on a constant basis.
For the thousands of residents in the river's path, it's not about who releases the information.?It's not about public officials or lawmakers having their moment in the spotlight. It's not about the Corps "managing" information. It's simply about providing information.
The apparent attitude from the Corps' report could be interpreted as "We'll tell you what you need to know, when you need to know." That's absolutely unacceptable, and that kind of attitude is why citizens don't trust the government.
We suggest the Corps ask the thousands of people devastated by the 2011 flood how they feel about recommendations on how to better "manage" the release of information to the public.