As residents of Hamburg, Iowa wait for the Missouri River to reach a secondary levee protecting the town, other communities on the river are wondering whether they could also be one step from disaster. Al Berndt, assistant director of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, joined Grant Gerlock of NET News on Morning Edition for an update on the flood threat in Nebraska.
In South Sioux City, where the Missouri River is three feet above flood stage, emergency officers are monitoring a temporary 7,0000-foot levee built to hold back the water.
The first challenge to that levee is the additional surge from Gavin's Point Dam where the outflow from the reservoir reached 150,000 cubic feet per second on Tuesday. Berndt joined Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman for a flyover of the South Sioux City area on Tuesday and said they found a community prepared for the threat.
"Looks like it's moving swift and fast. There's a lot of water up there," Berndt said. "The water was starting to approach the temporary levee that they built in some areas. Obviously we're hoping that maybe because of the speed of the river, scouring that's going on, that the full brunt of what potentially could happen in South Sioux City has been averted."
It will take about 3 days for the surge from Gavin's Point Dam to reach Rulo, Nebraska. At that point, Berndt said officials will watch to see how high the river peaks and how long it will stay at historically high levels.
"One of our concerns obviously is, in the Omaha area, South Sioux City area, or even on south from Bellevue, is how long water stays on the levees and whether they continue to hold," he said.
He added that officials are hopeful the situation on the Platte River won't get much worse. The state Department of Natural Resources said the amount of water being released from Lake McConaughy near Ogallala will hold steady in the near term.
That will take some pressure off of the North Platte area, Berndt said.
"North Platte had been planning for substantially higher flows, but if the lake can maintain what they're doing, that's a good sign for North Platte," Berndt said.
Farther west, flows across the Wyoming state line have not reached the peak that had been predicted, but high water on the North Platte River is still reaching some areas around Scottsbluff and Gering.
"There's a lot of seepage flooding, backwater flooding, coming up under the levee that protects a residential area in Terrytown," Berndt said. "There's a lot of water moving out there, and that still remains an area of concern for us."
NEMA hoping Nebraska levees continue to hold
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June 14, 2011 - 7:00pm