U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urges caution towards preparing for 2021 run-off season in Missouri River Basin

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FILE – This March 18, 2019, file photo, taken by the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol and provided by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management shows flooding along the Missouri River in rural Iowa north of Omaha, Neb. (Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management via AP, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (KCAU) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Omaha District is encouraging the public to keep an eye towards the 2021 run-off season in the Missouri River Basin, as the winter months are approaching.

Officials said with the significant strides made in repairing the over 350 miles of levees across the Lower Missouri River Basin that were damaged after the historic 2019 floods. There’s a heightened level of flood risk that remains for communities and landowners behind those damaged levee systems as the repair efforts remain ongoing.

The flood risk is higher than it was before the 2019 flood event because the levees are comprised of a series of components that all function together to create a complete levee system.

Until all of those components, such as seepage berms and relief wells, are repaired, the Army Corps of Engineers said the system doesn’t fully provide the same level of flood risk reduction as it did in its pre-flood condition.

A typical levee cross section. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 “A lot of work has been done by the levee sponsors, other stakeholders, and USACE team to repair the levee systems that were decimated by the 2019 flooding. However, there is still a significant amount of work to be done. The levees in their current conditions do not offer the same level of risk reduction as they did prior to the 2019 floods. There is still work to be done up and down the system to restore the levees to their full protection level. I urge everyone to remain vigilant this upcoming flood season,” said Matt Krajewski, Director of Emergency Operations, USACE-Omaha.

As of November 2020, USACE has awarded almost $500 million in levee repair construction contracts and more than $375 million of the work has been accomplished to include:

  • 15 projects that have been significantly completed
  • 12 current active construction projects, including all the levees on the left bank of the Missouri River within Omaha District’s area of responsibility
  • five projects that are still working through the design process

Officials mention even though it’s anticipated that all levee systems will be at full height by March 1, 2021, there are repairs on various other components of the levee systems that will continue throughout much of the 2021 construction season.

USACE said the levee sponsors and local communities need to stay vigilant until those repairs can be completed.

The Omaha District remains focused on ensuring the safety of citizens and remain positioned to provide flood fight assistance to state, local and tribal government agencies, as appropriate. We will also continue working with our other federal partners to communicate the conditions on the river systems as we look towards the 2021 run-off season. When severe weather and/or heavy precipitation is forecasted, the public is encouraged to keep in contact with their local emergency managers for the latest conditions in their area.

From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

To keep up-to-date on the repair efforts to flood control structures in the Missouri River Basin, click here.

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