KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — More than $180 million worth of repairs to Missouri River levees battered by the historic 2011 flooding are winding down. But critics complain the work is taking too long to complete.
Last summer at this time, Nebraska and Iowa were in the grips of major flooding along the Missouri River. Now, a small southwest Iowa community hopes to make permanent a levee that protected them from the river. Omaha Public Radio's Deborah Newcombe takes us there.
More information about Hamburg's efforts is available at www.hamburglevee.com. The Omaha District of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers estimates it'll cost 280-million dollars to repair all the damage caused by last year's flooding will cost 280-million dollars.
Corps officials updated the status of levee repairs during a conference call Tuesday. Last summer’s Missouri River flooding caused significant damage in Nebraska and western Iowa. The Corps’ Omaha District has 11 levee repair projects underway, with $99 million dollars in repairs complete.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to build a new, three-mile long levee near Nebraska City.
The $12.9 million project will re-align levee L-575 along Highway 2. It’ll be built further away from the Missouri River than the existing section of levee. Once it’s built, the existing levee at that location in Fremont County, Iowa, will be torn down. The Corps of Engineers awarded a contract earlier this week for the levee setback project.
The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is contributing $2 million toward additional upgrades and a study of Omaha’s levee system.
The study is required for FEMA recertification of the levee system. That’s separate from what’s done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. FEMA began requiring levee certifications after Hurricane Katrina.
The 2012 spring runoff season is underway along the Missouri River.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say releases from Gavins Point Dam averaged 22,000 cubic feet per second during February. It’ll stay at that level through the middle of this month, and then increase for the start of the navigation season. Last year’s record runoff season led to devastating flooding along the Missouri River in Nebraska and Iowa.
The leader of the Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District believes the agency is better prepared in the event of flooding this year.
About 70 emergency managers and levee sponsors gathered Tuesday in Omaha for the annual Missouri River flood fight preparedness training. Last year’s Missouri River flooding inundated farms, businesses, and homes in western Iowa for more than three months.
Western Iowa residents forced out of their homes by Missouri River flooding may have another option for temporary housing.
Iowa Finance Authority spokeswoman Ashley Jared says flood victims can apply for a waiver to live in housing usually restricted by the federal government to low-income families.
Jared says the waiver applies to flood victims in Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills, and Fremont counties. People who lived in those counties between May 25th and August first of 2011 can apply for the housing waiver.