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Soggy Situation

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Missouri River Climbing Out Of Its Banks

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

With many areas of western Mills County already suffering from flooding, the worst may be yet to come as the Missouri River is not expected to crest until later this week, said Larry Hurst, Emergency Management Director for Mills County.

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Hurst said the area of greatest concern for Mills County residents is a four-mile stretch of Missouri River bottom near the Plattsmouth Toll Bridge.

The Missouri River began reaching flood stage last week, putting pressure on the levee in Mills County. Hurst was reluctant to guess how high the river has risen but predicted it had been “well above flood stage” for more than a week.

“We’ve been at that level since the (June) 13th or 14th,” he said.

For the last 10 days, Hurst and the Mills-Pottawattamie County Missouri River Levee District have kept their eyes on the four miles of Missouri River levee southwest of Glenwood. Lincoln Landing and Mintle Landing, two mobile home and camping communities along the river bottom that frequently flood, and about a dozen homes along Karns Avenue, which runs north-south along the levee area, are experiencing major flooding, said Hurst.

Hurst and Mills County Supervisor Richard Crouch toured sites along the levee last week. The county requested the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Iowa Governor’s office “to provide technical and direct assistance as the situation may warrant” in Mills County.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver signed off on that request June 14 and the Corps of Engineers were out late last week shoring up several areas of the levee with temporary dikes.

More Corps of Engineer crews were expected this week to monitor the levees and be on standby and ready to mobilize.

“The corps did some temporary dikes along some spots because the back of the levy was torn out (by water),” Hurst said. “We’re just not sure if this will hold once the river starts putting pressure on.”

Lincoln Landing and Mintle Landing were evacuated last week, but some trailers and mobile homes remain submerged in water. No injuries have been reported.

Mills County Public Health is advising residents in this area not to drink well water and closely monitor their septic tanks for sewage leaks.

Hurst spent most of Monday morning surveying flooded areas in the southwest part of the county. Hurst said Karns Avenue was partially submerged in water and nearly a dozen homes in the area are completely surrounded by standing water. The National Weather Service estimated nearly two inches of rainfall fell in Mills County on Sunday night alone.

“The rain doesn’t help, but the problem is they’ve been getting more rain up north and it’s just been contributing to our high water problems down here,” he said.

The National Weather Service is calling for more rain this week. Hurst said more heavy rain certainly won’t help matters but it’s the overflowing Missouri River basin right now that’s posing the greatest risk to private property and agriculture in the western areas of the county.

“I think we’ll be getting more this week,” said Hurst. “I think we had more heavy rain in 2008, especially in that three-day period when we had like 20 inches, but the water ways and the creeks all held up pretty good. This time it’s the Missouri causing the trouble and causing the back ups in the Keg Creek and some other areas and putting pressure on the levees.”

Hurst said Keg Creek is high, especially to the east as it approaches the Missouri, but staying in its banks currently.