Omaha Public Radio News
Fri September 16, 2011
After 104 days, flood threat ends in Omaha
By Katie Schubert
Omaha, NE – After more than 100 days of flooding, Omaha's Lewis and Clark landing is re-open to the public.
City officials removed the flood wall Friday morning that's kept water out of downtown Omaha all summer. The Missouri River is at 28.52 feet at the Omaha riverfront, half a foot below flood stage.
Mayor Jim Suttle says the city has spent over 10 million dollars so far on flood control, but that number is likely to rise. "The 10 million number we're quoting you is the rolling weekly accounting ledger on what our operating expenses have been to date, whether that's labor, whether that is the rentals for pumps, sandbags, any equipment, anything we had to bring in to support our crews and our efforts on this."
Lewis and Clark Landing is structurally safe, but will need some repairs and still has no electricity. Suttle says it was important to keep parts of the Riverfront, such as the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge, open even at the height of Missouri River flooding. "I was bound and determined to let that be a symbol that we were fighting this river and that we were going to be in charge, and today, seeing all of this reopen, it's just a good opportunity, and we encourage the public to just come on down and take a peek at the river and begin to enjoy it again."
Parks Director Melinda Pearson says NP Dodge and Freedom Parks will remain closed the rest of this year. The city will still need to use a pumping system set up to remove storm water from downtown. Six to eight feet of silt accumulated in some flap gates where water drains in to the Missouri River. A dive team is inspecting those, and if flood gates can be reopened, they will be.
3,187 volunteers filled 339,500 sandbags used to protect Omaha's infrastructure.