The Missouri River, engorged by record rains and snowfall, has flooded thousands of acres in the Midwest and will remain out of its usual channel until October, says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' water management chief.
The Corps has reduced outflow from earlier record levels at five of its six dams on the Missouri, but water continues to pour out of Gavins Point Dam in Yankton, S.D., at a rate of 160,000 cu ft per second until Aug. 1, when the rate is scheduled to drop gradually.
As the eight states forming the Missouri Basin countenance their homes, farms and highways being underwater, shut down or surrounded by sandbags, their governors and Corps officials will meet on Aug. 19 in Omaha, Neb., to discuss flood control.
“The meeting is an opportunity for the governors affected to gather and discuss water management issues,” says Jen Rae Hein, spokeswoman for Gov. Dave Heineman (R-Neb.).
“[Plans are] to evacuate all the floodwater before the start of next season—the bulk of it by December, most by early October,” says Jody Farhat, chief of the water management division at the Corps' Omaha District.
The agency is studying this year's flooding and the response to it as well as how these events might affect planning for next year, says Col. Bob Ruch, Omaha District commander.
Ruch will not give time lines for the reports but says, “Some things we need to look at quickly, so it will help us in forming our decisions, even as we form release schedules” for dams that are due on July 29.
The long-term high-water outlook means continued pressure on more than 1,000 miles of levees, which are being monitored for overtopping, possible breaches, sand boils and other problems.
One such hurdle is scour damage, which occurred on July 23 in Holt County, Mo. The Corps dumped about 3,000 tons of rock at two sites about 200 yd apart, says Col. Tony Hofmann, head of the Corps' Kansas City District. The next step is to build a berm on the land side to add structural weight and thickness there, Hofmann says.
Charlie Zanker, who farms near Hamburg, Iowa, lost 600 to 700 acres of crops to flooding last year and now has 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans underwater. He says 32 grain bins, his shop and storage buildings, and his house are also underwater—for a loss of about $2.75 million, pending an insurance settlement.