Residents in Hamburg, Iowa, are racing to get out of town before flood water from the Missouri River hits the town’s streets.
A levy on the river developed a leak on Sunday and over one-thousand people have been ordered to leave. Those who are impacted by this flooding have many questions about the situation but perhaps the most important is — why wasn’t the water upstream released earlier to avoid this massive flood now?
Ted Streckfuss, deputy district engineer with the U-S Army Corps of Engineers, says everything was on schedule until upstream areas received a year’s worth of rainfall in one month.
“We work very closely to insure that the waters that we’re going to be getting related to snowpack and rainfall are evacuated at the beginning of the year,” Streckfuss says.
“Last year, for example, during the rainy season and the amount of snow we got last year, we evacuated over nine-million acre feet of water from the system. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of March this year, the reservoir system was exactly where it needed to be.”
Streckfuss says a breach was discovered Sunday in the levy in northwest Missouri, just south of Hamburg, and they are watching it closely. The break could have a big impact on Interstate 29.
“There is only about six feet of water on that levee at this juncture but again the flow is expected to increase,” he says. “Are there going to be impacts to I-29? We are working closely with Missouri and Iowa Departments of Transportation providing them projected levels associated with what the water is going to do.”
It’s going to take a long time for all this water to flow downstream. Streckfuss says this situation could continue all summer.
“Our release schedule coming from the dams projects that 150-thousand (cubic feet per second) which everyone is aware of to continue through that early to mid-August time frame,” he says. “At that point, we will begin the process, provided all things remain as projected within that model, we will insure the system is brought back down to its more normal flow rates that we’ve seen in the past.”
He says the Corps is working on a plan to protect Hamburg.