New river flooding in Nebraska, Iowa forcing some out again

May 29, 2019
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Residents fill sandbags, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Ottumwa, Iowa, as floodwaters from the Des Moines River has forced residents out of homes along the riverbank. (Matt Milner/The Ottumwa Courier via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Some residents are facing evacuations amid new flooding along the Nebraska-Iowa border just weeks after thousands of people in the region were forced from their homes because of flooding.

Rural and riverside residents along the Missouri River in Mills County, Iowa, were preparing this week to evacuate, the Omaha World-Herald reported Wednesday. In Nebraska, along the Platte River, residents around Hanson Lakes just south of Bellevue were sandbagging a levee that was already being overtopped by the river.

The Plattsmouth Emergency Medical Services Department warned that the Platte and Missouri Rivers were rapidly rising around Plattsmouth. The department tweeted: “If you are in an area which previously flooded a few months ago, get out NOW.”

The new flooding comes in the wake of recent heavy rains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stepped up releases from Gavins Point Dam upstream on the Missouri River.

In Hamburg, Iowa, residents and farmers were again scrambling to shore up a levee and add about 3 feet (0.91 meters) to its height to hold back water from the Missouri River. It’s a scramble that local residents have repeated over the years to try to protect the town of about 1,000 people near the Missouri state line.

About 30 people who gathered Tuesday to fill and stack sandbags to try to hold back rising water. Among them was Chip Frazier, president of Sanitary Improvement District 101, which oversees the Hanson’s Lakes area.

“We’re doing the best we can to fight off the Platte River,” Frazier said, noting the water overtopping the levee in spots.

“It’s like whack-a-mole,” he said. “As soon as we fill a low spot, we get more low spots, start getting boils in the dike.”

The area also flooded in March, leading to evacuations. Roughly one-third of the community’s residents were still displaced from their homes, Frazier said.

The historic March flooding caused an estimated $3 billion in damage in the Midwest.

Further east near the Des Moines River in Ottumwa, some residents in flood-prone areas near the river’s banks were forced out of their homes by floodwaters. The river crested Wednesday at about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) below major flood stage, at 18.9 feet (5.76 meters).

Others toiled to place sandbags around their homes to keep water out. A shelter was opened Wednesday for Ottumwa residents forced from their homes.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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