Missouri River Flooding – Worst Is Yet To Come

Monday, June 27, 2011
By Paul Martin

Flooding: The worst is yet to come

By David Hendee
Omaha.com
Sunday June 26, 2011

Imagine roughly 55 million acres — the entire surface of Nebraska and southwest Iowa — covered in a foot of water.

Now imagine trying to funnel all that water down a drainage canal surrounded by airports and homes, businesses and farms.

You can begin to grasp the unprecedented, slow-developing danger facing folks from Montana to Missouri from the Great Flood of 2011.

In more than a century of record-keeping, the nation’s longest river has never coped with more water.

Floodwaters are breaching levees, triggering evacuations, closing highways, swamping thousands of acres of farmland, destroying homes and lapping against hurriedly reinforced floodwalls protecting cities, airports and power plants, including two in Nebraska that produce nuclear power.

The damage bill will tally in the hundreds of millions.

As bad as it’s been, the hardest parts are still ahead, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the river system’s managers.

“It’s going to be a devastating season in terms of how the levees do,” said Brig. Gen. John McMahon, commander of the corps’ Northwestern Division. “There’s going to be a lot of pain and suffering.”

Frustration and questions along the river are rising, too. Elected officials, including the governors of Nebraska and Iowa, have criticized or called for investigations of the management of the Missouri by the corps.

“I think when this is over there needs to be a complete review of how the whole Missouri River basin has been handled by the corps,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

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