After months of flooding, the Missouri River is again open for business, and recreational boating. The Coast Guard has given the all-clear for all stretches of the waterway and traffic is moving for the first time since June.
John LaRandeau, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says the Missouri River remains high and is still a challenge to navigate. “There’s a reach down there at river mile 217 that a towboat was making like one mile an hour in about a ten-mile reach because of the high current,” LaRandeau says.
The Coast Guard had been giving waivers to tow operators, but now has opened the river to recreational boat traffic as well. Boat traffic was halted on the Missouri when the flooding first began back in the spring, but LaRandeau says it’s almost back to the way it was before the flood.
“The river, in reality, is in real good shape,” he says. “It has sufficient depth for draft for the barges, but there are certain sections of the river that had some damage to structures and chute areas that were damaged, so there’s some high currents in a few locations. There’ll be some challenges in a few reaches.” LaRandeau says scores of recreational boaters all along the shoreline in Iowa and Nebraska have been anxious to get back onto the waterway.
“A lot of folks were waiting to get on the river to get back and fish, and in some cases, to use their boats to get access to various locations to retrieve boats and all kinds of things,” he says. The last remaining section of the river that was closed has been reopened, from just north of South Sioux City all the way past Hamburg, Iowa, and on south to Rulo, Nebraska.