Missouri River levee breaches near Hamburg

Photo by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security

The Des Moines Register is reporting that there will be flooding near Hamburg within days as the Missouri River rises.

Their report:

The U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers reports that the previously damaged Missouri River  levee  has breached south of Hamburg, Ia. in Atchison County, Mo.

Floodwaters should not reach Hamburg for a day or two, the  Fremont County, Iowa  sheriff’s office reported.

Mike Crecelius, emergency management coordinator for Fremont County, said 961 county residents have left the Hamburg area either voluntarily or in mandatory evacuations.  He said no one is left in the area expected to get water.

If the beefed-up levee on the south and west edges of town holds, Hamburg may not flood, Crecelius said. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad is pulling a 1125-foot  section of tracks so the Corps can fortify the levee and seal off town.

The Corps reported it could be Friday before the levee is done, but told Crecelius the work would be complete Wednesday. The highest water is expected to hit Hamburg by Friday or Saturday.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning that includes Hamburg.

The 50-foot hole in the levee was discovered about 10 a.m. It is near an area where the Corps discovered damage a week ago. The Corps pulled its crews on June 5, ruling that the repaired levee was likely to fail.

The levee, built in the 1940s, is officially L-575. Crecelius said the gap is widening by the hour.

Because of the breach, the Iowa Department of Transportation plans to close Interstate Highway 29 and Iowa Highway 333 near Hamburg within 48 hours.

Details of the closures:

• I-29, from the Iowa 2 interchange (milepost 10 in Iowa) to the U.S. 136 interchange (milepost 110, near Phelps City, Mo.)

• Iowa/Missouri 333, entire route to be closed.

An estimated 600 residents were ordered to evacuate southern Hamburg last week, and the Corps pulled its contractors on June 5, deeming the levee unstable and likely to break.

The Corps does not plan to try to fix the levee, which was weakened by a burrowing badger initially.  The northern part of town is on higher ground and should not flood.

Previous predictions for flooding in Hamburg were based on the levee breaking so the failure does not change the flood forecast for the town of 1,100.

Work is nearly complete on the Ditch 6 levee build-up west of Hamburg, to protect from water coming from other direction. The Corps predicts will will be done Friday, about the time the effects of the full releases from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota reach the Hamburg area.

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