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Farmers work to reclaim land flooded by Missouri River before growing season

"The worst part of it was getting back and seeing the devastation and dealing with the devastation, cleaning up the houses, cleaning up the buildings, dealing with the debris in the fields and removing the sand," said Leo Ettleman, 57, of Percival, Iowa, who saw about 1,700 of the 2,500 acres he farms flooded last year when a federal levee broke.

So much sand was left behind that some farmland resembles a desert, complete with sand storms that have been filling in drainage ditches and leaving irrigation systems partially buried. Once plants sprout, there is a risk of blowing sand battering the seedlings or covering them up entirely.

-- Reported by the Associated Press