Omaha Public Radio News
5:12 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

Western Iowa officials, residents discuss impact of Missouri River flooding

Omaha, NE – Residents and officials of western Iowa towns had a chance Friday afternoon to share their flood experiences and concerns with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's office hosted the roundtable discussion in Council Bluffs. The Missouri river has dropped to flood stage in western Iowa as less water is released from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota. It's left behind significant damage to homes, farmland, and public infrastructure.

Cara Morgan, chairwoman of the Fremont County Board of Supervisors, says 133 homes there have been affected by flood water. "We have six destroyed and 60 that have major damage, that more than likely will have to be rebuilt. We have 65,000 acres that are currently affected, underwater, farmers they have lost, that is corn and bean acres alone." Morgan estimates Fremont County's crop losses at more than $40 million dollars.

Rick Archer is a farmer in Onawa. Archer estimates he's lost 1400 acres of farmland to this summer's flooding. And he's concerned about the future of a bridge at Decatur, Nebraska, providing important access to Onawa residents.

In Council Bluffs, Missouri River flooding caused 23 sewers to collapse and damaged six storm water pumping stations beyond repair. Mayor Tom Hanafan says the city spent $11 million dollars on flood control efforts and continues to have issues with groundwater.

Corps officials say they followed the same plan this year as they do every year when releasing water from upstream dams. They say this year's flooding created "extraordinary conditions."