Battling the “Mighty Mo”
June 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson
(first-person commentary on the southwest Iowa floods by KJAN staffer Jason Schomburg, who lives in the affected area)
For people who live along the Missouri river floods come, and floods go. This one is different in a couple very important ways. The Army Corp of Engineers is predicting record levels along the “Mighty Mo”, also the waters are expected to stay in areas for a month, maybe longer. This event could very easily become a disaster.
Levees protecting communities along the river are being put to the ultimate test. Overtopping may not be the only concern. At this point, it’s hard to adequately predict how the mounds of dirt are going to handle being swamped for an indefinite amount of time, or have a current eroding them away while holding the forces of 150,000CFS of water. There is already thousands of acres of some of the worlds finest farm ground under water.
The lost crops alone will total into well into millions of bushels. Yet the national media has not really picked up on the story. In Hamburg, some businesses have moved everything out of their buildings. Others are still in the process of moving their goods. A berm is being built around the Blue Moon restaurant and it’s next door neighbor, the Hamburg city water plant.
Not all humor has been lost in this town that is about to be in a fight for it’s very existence. On the top of the entrance markers leading into the subdivision of Fox Hills are perched small statues of foxes both of which are wearing bright orange life jackets.
A few miles to the west where Highway 2 and Interstate 29 meet, sits a small area of businesses catering to travelers on I-29 The only one that remains open is a Sapp Bothers Truck stop. Like other,
nearby businesses, dirt is piled around the building, but the front is open, for the moment. Another truck stop in the area has even removed the pumps.
The motel an America’s Best Nights Inn Has a berm built all the way around it with the marquee telling the story. “Lake Front Property For Sale” Less than two miles away Highway 2 has had one of its four lanes succumb to the flood waters.
North, in the town of Bartlett, Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad employees were removing the signals at the grade crossing. At the Plattsmouth toll bridge, a gravel road under the train bridge, normally 500 feet away from the River, is now under several feet of water with a very steady flow
Near Pacific Junction, the only company that has currently done anything to protect their holdings is A&M Green Power. The John Deere Dealer has moved all of their farm equipment to Malvern, and built a dirt wall around the facilities, which were constructed in 2010.
Regardless of whether the Army Corp of Engineers is to blame for holding back too much water in the Spring, causing them to release record amounts of water into the Missouri, or whether it’s just an unfortunate turn of events. The water is coming. Residents can only hope the levees will hold, and all of the last ditch efforts to protect their communities, are not needed.