The berm-building and sandbagging efforts taking place in recent weeks along railroad tracks and around businesses in western Mills County are well-documented, but dozens of homeowners are also taking precautionary measures to protect their property from the rising water in the Missouri River.
“We’re down to the basic essentials where we can move out pretty quick,” Dan Robbins said. “We need to keep the rain away and hope the
Robbins and his wife have lived in their home for 11 years. It sits less than two miles from the Missouri River on the western edge of the county and would likely be in harm’s way should the river break through the county’s levee system.
As a proactive measure, Robbins has built a dirt berm around the perimeter of his yard. It took nearly 300 yards of dirt and 40,000 tons of gravel to construct. He’s hopeful the berm would keep water away from the house should flooding occur.
Robbins has heard the prediction that flooding in 2011 will rival the floods of 1952 and 1993.
“My wife’s family has lived down the road for several years,” he said. “They had 3 – 4 feet of water around here in ’52.”
Robbins is hopeful the berm he built will never be tested, but if the water does come, many of his family’s personal belongings have already been loaded up in a storage trailer.
For now, Robbins and other homeowners near the Missouri River can only wait and see what Mother Nature has to offer this summer. Robbins said he’s given thought to keeping the berm up permanently and planting grass and shrubs on it.
“We’re in a 500-year flood plain and it’s only been 60 years since ’52,” Robbins said. “They might have to reclassify us.”
Mills County Public Health Administrator Sheri Bowen said Monday night’s storms and heavy rainfall will only increase water levels on the Missouri River. Bowen said a couple concerns have surfaced in the past week on both the north and south ends of the 26-mile levee system in Mills County. The levees are being monitored daily and Iowa National Guard troops are now patrolling the system.
As of Tuesday morning, no evacuations had been mandated, but Bowen said property owners in western Mills County along and near Kane Ave. have been put on alert because of potential road closures.
Mills County Emergency Management officials are urging residents who plan to evacuate their homes to have their utilities shut off before vacating the premises and to notify the Mills County Sheriff’s Office (527-4871) that they’ve moved to higher ground and their home is unoccupied.