Flooding could have been a lot worse

Emergency management is waiting on historical comparisons


Several Harrison County officials and departments have spent nearly two weeks preparing for, fighting against and now examining flooding in the area.

According to Harrison County Emergency Management Director Bonnie Castillo, they were made aware of possible flooding in the Missouri River and Little Sioux two Fridays ago by the National Weather Service.

Meetings were held multiple times a day through Sunday, with representation from Harrison County Emergency Management, Board of Supervisors, Sheriff's Office, CHI Hospital in Missouri Valley, mayors, the City of Missouri Valley, Secondary Roads, levee district members and the Woodland Campground safety director all participating.

Water levels are receding now, but the Missouri River crested at 32.15 feet last Thursday near Blair, Neb., and Missouri Valley. The crest in 2011 was 32.73 feet and the crest in 2019 was 31.12 feet.

Castillo said that the Woodland Campground in Little Sioux received significant damage and will be recovering from it for quite some time, but much of the damage that otherwise could have happened was fought off by members and volunteers for the county's levee and drainage districts.

Meetings will now be based around recovery efforts and whether or not Harrison County will qualify for individual assistance and public assistance from FEMA. Individual assistance is for households, Castillo said, while public assistance would be for things such as county roads and the levee system.

There were small levee breaches that were addressed immediately upon being discovered, Castillo said, thanks to the efforts of members and volunteers of the levee districts.

Because of those efforts, the flooding impact in Harrison County was much less than it could have been," Castillo continued. "It's really important that we give a lot of praise to those flood fighters.”

In an interview with KMTV out of Omaha, Larry Buss, who is a local farmer and chairman of the Rand Peterson Levee District, said the district needs about $10 million in additional funding to fix levees,” which would also help keep farmers from sacrificing their own crops to fight flooding.

In that same interview, Ruth Utman, who dug up her own crops with neighbors to build emergency levees when the private levee near their Modale farmland failed, said the greater good is more important.

You may end up with nothing,” she said to KMTV. It's just mankind. You've got to give to others to protect.”

Harrison County Engineer Steven Struble said that, as of the Reporter's Tuesday morning deadline, most of the water on county roads had receded.

The report I got from my informant (Monday) morning is that he could drive clear down to the river on roads he has been on,” Struble said.

Those roads included 122nd, 160th, 260th and 222nd streets, Benton Lane and the Remington Boat Ramp. Those roads, Struble said, were running mostly east and west toward the river, and the water had receded and left very little damage.

We didn't have anything on a big farm to market connector,” Struble said of the flooded roadways.

Now, Castillo is waiting on costs from the 2019 repairs, which she reached out to Iowa Homeland Security for.

There's been a lot of talk about 2019 vs. today,” Castillo, who transitioned to her role in Harrison County earlier this year, said. ...I have asked Iowa Homeland Security to get costs associated with repairs from 2019 to do a comparison. I do not have those yet.”