"VAN BUREN, Ark. — Marty Shell just wanted the lights back on.
Nineteen barges bound for nowhere were tied up along the swollen riverbank. Dark warehouses full of flooded fertilizer reeked with a sulfuric stench that made it painful to inhale. The river system, which for decades provided Mr. Shell a livelihood, now spreads only gelatinous mud and pungent debris and uncomfortable questions about the future.
The devastating flooding that has submerged large parts of the Midwest and South this spring has also brought barge traffic on many of the regions’ rivers to a near standstill. The water is too high and too fast to navigate. Shipments of grains, fertilizers and construction supplies are stranded. And riverfront ports, including the ones Mr. Shell oversees in Van Buren and Fort Smith, Ark., have been overtaken by the floods and severely damaged."