Senator says releases must ease for flood recovery to begin again

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St. Joseph Post

A rising Missouri River and a broken levee system sent floodwaters back into low-lying areas in northwest Missouri, re-flooding portions of Atchison and Holt Counties which were just starting to recover.

State Sen. Dan Hegeman of Cosby says previous floods wiped out the protection many communities in those counties count on.

“We experience it more up here, because we don’t have the protection of the levees any longer in Holt and Atchison Counties and so when the river does rise, we experience much greater up here than what we have in the past,” Hegeman tells St. Joseph Post.

Recovery had begun before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased water releases from Gavins Point Dam. Releases had already been high, at 70,000 cubic feet per second. Heavy rain in the upper Missouri River basin prompted the Corps to raise water releases to 80,000 cfs.

Those releases made a difference downstream.

The Missouri River, which had been dropping, began to rise once again. Now, the river level is beginning to fall again, but slowly.

The National Weather Service reports the Missouri River at 22.34 feet at Rulo, Nebraska after reaching a crest of 23-point-11. At St. Joseph, the Missouri has fallen to 22.67 feet from 23.84 and, at Atchison, Kansas, the river has dropped not quite a foot, from 25.6 feet to 24.3 feet.

Flooding returned to northwest Missouri, in particular the cities of Holt and Atchison Counties which have been battered by flooding since mid-March. A rising Missouri also closed in on Lewis and Clark Village in Buchanan County, which had been attempting to recover since the late May floods. Highway 59 in southern Buchanan County remains closed, cutting off the route to Atchison.

Hegeman says it’s good to see the Missouri River falling, but says it would fall faster if the Corps of Engineers would reduce water releases from Gavins Point.

“We need to be able to see the river go down appreciably before we’re able to go back and rebuild the levees,” according to Hegeman. “And so, looking forward to partnering with the counties in this effort to get the levees rebuilt once again and provide some protection.”