Destructive Flooding Continues

Missouri River Crests in Areas as Levees Gave Way Downstream Over the Weekend

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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A farm along the eastern edge of the Missouri River bottoms was caught with standing water flooding major machinery and grain bins. Hundreds of residents in Glenwood, Iowa, came out to sand bag, trying to protect the neighboring town of Pacific Junction and the city's water plant. (DTN photos by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The Missouri River and several of its tributaries are expected to crest Monday or Tuesday as the Army Corps of Engineers dialed back flow releases from a South Dakota dam over the weekend and most of the most threatened areas went without rain.

Still, the river bottom flooding continued as thousands of people were evacuated in Nebraska and Iowa over the weekend. The town of Pacific Junction, Iowa, with about 450 people, faced a mandatory evacuation Sunday as the river bottom flooding risked topping sandbags stacked along a railroad bed on the western edge of the town. Pacific Junction is about five miles east of the Missouri River.

Levee breaks in Iowa had covered Interstate 29 from Pacific Junction to 30 miles south into Missouri. Hundreds of people spent the weekend sandbagging to protect Pacific Junction, as well as the water plant for Glenwood, Iowa, a town of about 6,000 people just a few miles higher up in the Loess Hills.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds was scheduled to tour the area on Monday.

Tens of thousands of acres of Missouri River farm ground are underwater, including some acres still filled with unharvested corn or soybeans from last fall.

On the Nebraska side, roughly one-third of Offutt Air Force Base was underwater, including about 3,000 feet of runway, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Farther west and north in Nebraska, receding waters over the weekend revealed devastated towns, farms and homes, as well as roads and bridges destroyed by raging rivers. The storms began last week with a combination of snow, heavy rain and temperatures just warm enough to melt months of snow in a matter of hours. Ice chunks remained in some areas, but that threat has declined.

The Army Corps of Engineers reported 20 levees south of Omaha on the Missouri River that were topped or breached in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. At least five other Corps levees in Missouri were at risk of breach or topping.

The Corps said Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota had reached 100,000 cubic feet of water releases briefly on Friday, but had dialed back the outflows to about 43,000 cfs on Sunday night. The volume of outflows were expected to continue to decline to 20,000 cfs by Tuesday morning.

The Corps stated the Missouri River to Omaha had crested and was near the crest at Nebraska City, Nebraska. The river should crest in St. Joseph by Wednesday and Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday, though the National Weather Service is warning of possible storms in Missouri and southern Nebraska on Monday night and possibly into Wednesday.

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Chris Clayton