Category: Flood 2019

Hamburg Rebuids Levees As Missouri River Rises Again

HAMBURG, Iowa- The rising Missouri River has people in Hamburg scrambling to get ready for yet another flood. The entire town was flooded back in March, after the river spared the town mostly back in 2011.

Now local crews have rebuilt an earthen levee with survey help from the Army Corps of Engineers. Also a brand new double-width Hesco Barrier has been put up across the downtown area. Many of the buildings south of the Hesco barrier as still flooded out, and have yet to be rehabilitated. Those buildings north of the barrier did get water in March, but are trying to come back.

“We’re trying to get back to normal as much as we can,” said Phil Kuhr, of the Stoner Drug Store. “We’re open for business that we can do the prescriptions over the counter meds, the fountain is not open yet.”

The store is known for it’s antique style soda fountain. Around six inches of water inside Stoner Drug kept the business closed for two months. It reopened last Tuesday.

Rising water has again cut off small towns in Fremont County.

“Right now we cannot we can no longer as of two days ago, access McPaul, you cannot access Bartlett, you cannot access Percival, you cannot access Highway 2 Sapp Brothers area, said Mike Crecelius, Fremont County Emergency Manager. “During conference call this morning and found the Corps of Engineers 75,000 ft.³ per second is going to go through the summer, so that’s another point of concern the river is going to be running high all summer long.”

Crecelius said some dredge units came up river to repair the levees, have been unable to work due to high water.

“We’re really going to need some bug spray here before long, with all this water there’s gonna be a lot of mosquitoes among other things floating around in the air,” said Crecelius.

Flood Detours and Road Closures Not Always Heeded in Fremont County

SIDNEY, Iowa — The flooded roads in southwest Iowa have another hazard, for people trying to pass through the area. Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope said his department is seeing drivers try to take shortcuts, ignoring road closed signs.

“They do not pay attention they think the road signs are just a warning to them it’s not really true and they believe in their GPS systems,” said Aistrope. “They would take their GPS systems over a road close signs.

The Sheriff said that people are also impatient waiting in the sometimes heavy traffic on highway 275. The road is part of the way people detour eventually looking for I-29 south of St. Joseph MO. Also big trucks are on the road hauling rock to repair rails and roads. Grain trucks are also hauling grain from the area.

“There’s no point the best way to go is come down to Highway 34, go to 71, and go south that is the best way for people in this area to get to Kansas City or to the interstate,” said Aistrope.

The Sheriff said he expects this issue to keep going, as water is actually rising in parts of Fremont County.

“We’re going to do with us all summer, it’s not a quick fix for us,” said Aistrope. “We did it in ’11 and we did it last all year, so please drive safely.”

The Sheriff’s department does patrol towns which are evacuated. Percival and Bartlett both are still off-limits for residents due to high water in the towns, and covering roads leading to the towns. The water changes as the railroad builds up its track, making a higher dam for the water. The rail workers have been installing culverts to help the water drain.

“One day you can get there, and  the next day you can’t,” said Aistrope. “It just depends on how this water has gone and where it’s flowing through that day.”

Hamburg Evacuation Lifted- High Water Remains in Parts of Fremont County

HAMBURG, Iowa- Residents and businesses in Hamburg are now free to begin cleaning up flood damage.

“In Hamburg yesterday the Mayor lifted the evacuation order for the south end of Hamburg allowing for people to go back into their homes and to continue to clean up,” said Mike Crecelius, Fremont County Emergency Manager. “You cannot go west of Hamburg, you cannot go west of Bluff Road in Fremont County, the Board of Supervisors has determined that area will remain under evacuation.”

Now homeowners and businesses could spend time removing flood debris.

“We moved here from Missouri so yes this is the first time I’ve experienced a flood of this magnitude,” said Jeremiah Tomlin, who moved into his home nine days before the flood. “Also it’s the first time I was actually a full-fledged homeowner.”

Also, water has risen in the towns of Percival and Bartlett, and also at the Sapp Brothers Truck Stop at Highway 2 and I-29. Part of the cause of the flood was rail crews repairing flooded rail beds, and creating a new dam

“Saturday when I called them to let them know that Percival was re-flooding, that the water was coming across 200th street there North of Percival, they ceased their operations of plugging their holes and working on the railroad, they started digging out back underneath the rails they’d filled in,” said Crecelius.

The Fremont County Emergency Manager said he appreciates all the help he’s gotten from State government, and from people in Iowa and around the nation. He’s not optimistic yet, as there is still snow melt to come downstream.

When you look at the fact that we have 55 breaches in the levee from Missouri Valley Iowa to St. Jo Missouri and 14 of them are in my county,” said Crecelius. “The Corps of Engineers has awarded the contract to repair the breach at Percival and also the breach in Hamburg.”

Congresswoman Axne Visits Flood-Damaged Pacific Junction

PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa- Third District Congresswoman Cindy Axne a West Des Moines Democrat came to this town in Mills County after the water has finally receded. The town was closed almost a month due to high water.

Now residents are busy removing flood debris, ruined beds, games, computers, and drywall from within their homes

Axne listened as residents talked about how the flood affected them.

“How can people senior citizens that are getting maybe $700 a month being expected to start all over,” asked Ruby Simms of Malvern.

“All three roads going into my house have water over them,” said Rick Eppenbaugh, who lives south of Pacific Junction. “FEMA people won’t go in,  over water and neither will my insurance guy so I have to either walk in or boat in.”

Axne spoke of working with Vice President Pence and Governor Reynolds on a variety of fronts.

“We did a meeting with small business owners in Hamburg about 10 days ago about 40 folks came out,” said Axne. “We were able then to write tangibly see the motel owner Mr. Patel the SBA had refused his loan I was able to talk with the SBA right then and there and say what are we going to do to fix this?”

She also raised concern that the Army Corps of Engineers not repeat past mistakes when fixing the levee system.

“Right now what we’re hearing, give the parameters they’re facing, they’re gonna rebuild in the same way, it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” said Axne. “Problem with that is we could still have more flooding, and they’re saying that’s probably going to be the case.”

Axne also donned a protective suit and went inside a flooded home and worked to remove flooded items from the home.

Congresswoman Cindy Axne Visits Flood-Damaged Pacific Junction

PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa — Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a West Des Moines Democrat, came to Pacific Junction in Mills County after the water has finally receded. The town was closed almost a month due to high water.

Residents are busy removing flood debris, ruined beds, games, computers and drywall from within their homes.

Axne listened as residents talked about how the flood affected them.

“How can senior citizens that are getting maybe $700 a month be expected to start all over?” asked Ruby Simms of Malvern.

“All three roads going into my house have water over them,” said Rick Eppenbaugh, who lives south of Pacific Junction. “FEMA people won’t go in over water and neither will my insurance guy, so I have to either walk in or boat in.”

Axne spoke of working with Vice President Mike Pence and Governor Kim Reynolds on a variety of fronts.

“We did a meeting with small business owners in Hamburg about 10 days ago. About 40 folks came out,” said Axne. “We were able to right then tangibly see the motel owner, Mr. Patel, who was refused his loan by the Small Business Administration. I was able to talk with the SBA right then and there and say, ‘what are we going to do to fix this?'” said Axne.

She also raised concern that the Army Corps of Engineers not repeat past mistakes when fixing the levee system.

“Right now what we’re hearing, given the parameters they’re facing, they’re going to rebuild in the same way. It’s going to cost billions of dollars,” said Axne. “Problem with that is we could still have more flooding, and they’re saying that’s probably going to be the case.”

Axne also donned a protective suit and went inside a flooded home and worked to remove flooded items from the home.

Flood Victims Shelter in Camper, Awaiting Decision to Rebuild in Flood

FREMONT COUNTY, Iowa — Since flood waters completely covered their home in March, Ed and Frances Jensen have been living in a camper in a state park. The water ruined the inside of their home and the contents.

Recently, a Baptist disaster relief group from Oklahoma came and got all the flood debris from their home and stripped the drywall down to the studs.

The couple was camping well before Iowa weather warmed to what some would consider camping season.

“It was pretty chilly there. Couple nights we got a little electric heater we use in the camper, “ said Ed Jensen. “I’m going to go day by day, so we can do just live here and go do what we need to do, go over the house and do what we can do over there, life goes on.”

The couple seems content for now with the much smaller living space than they are used to.

“We’re not campers by no means, but it’s a place to say it’s a roof over our heads,” said Frances. “Rental property is so hard in this area because everybody’s displaced.”

Now they wrestle with the idea of going back and rebuilding their house. That’s a decision that can wait until June, with concern for more possible flooding coming downriver.

“Do we want to go back in there and get flooded again, I’m afraid the water’s going to come back because they’re still letting water out of the dam up north and all that snow melt,” said Ed. “It’s going to come down the Platte and down the Missouri again, and we’ll be right back in the same boat we’re in.”

Frances has also been battling health issues, so another flood would not be good for her.

“We never used to get those floods, you know once every few years, ten years, we’d get a little water,” said Ed. “We never used to get those high floods like we’re getting now. Something needs to be changed on the river.”

Their home is in the unincorporated town of McPaul. That’s located off Interstate 29 west of Thurman. Interstate 29 access is still closed due to flood waters.

Flood Victims Shelter in Camper- Waiting Decision on Rebuilding in Flood

FREMONT COUNTY, Iowa- Since flood waters completely covered their home in March, Ed and Frances Jensen have been living in a camper in a state park here. The water ruined the inside of their home and the contents.

Recently a Baptist disaster relief group from Oklahoma came and got all the flood debris from their home, and stripped the drywall, down to the studs.

The couple was camping, well before Iowa weather warmed to what some would consider camping season.

“It was pretty chilly there couple nights we got a little electric heater we use in the camper, “ said Ed Jensen. “I’m gonna go day by day, so we can do just live here and go do what we need to do, go over the house and do we can do over there, life goes on.”

The couple seems content for now with the much smaller living space than they are used to.

“We’re not campers by no means, but it’s a place to say it’s a roof over our heads,” said Frances. “Rental property is so hard in this area, because everybody’s displaced.”

Now they wrestle with the idea of going back and rebuilding their house. That’s a decision that can wait until June, with concern for more possible flooding coming downriver.

“Do we want to go back in there and get flooded again, I’m afraid the water’s going to come back, cause they’re still letting water out of the dam up north, and all that snow melt,” said Ed. “It’s gonna come down the Platte, and down the Missouri again, and we’ll be right back in the same boat we’re in.”

Frances has also been battling health issues, so another flood would not be good for her.

“We never used to get those floods, you know once every few years, ten years, we’d get a little water..in there,” said Ed. “We never used to get those high floods like we’re getting now, something needs to be changed on the river.”

Their home is in the un-incorporated town of Mc Paul. That’s located off I-29 west of Thurman. I-29 access is still closed due to flood waters.

Flood Victims Shelter in Camper, Waiting Decision to Rebuild in Flood

FREMONT COUNTY, Iowa — Since flood waters completely covered their home in March, Ed and Frances Jensen have been living in a camper in a state park. The water ruined the inside of their home and the contents.

Recently, a Baptist disaster relief group from Oklahoma came and got all the flood debris from their home and stripped the drywall down to the studs.

The couple was camping well before Iowa weather warmed to what some would consider camping season.

“It was pretty chilly there. Couple nights we got a little electric heater we use in the camper, “ said Ed Jensen. “I’m going to go day by day, so we can do just live here and go do what we need to do, go over the house and do what we can do over there, life goes on.”

The couple seems content for now with the much smaller living space than they are used to.

“We’re not campers by no means, but it’s a place to say it’s a roof over our heads,” said Frances. “Rental property is so hard in this area because everybody’s displaced.”

Now they wrestle with the idea of going back and rebuilding their house. That’s a decision that can wait until June, with concern for more possible flooding coming downriver.

“Do we want to go back in there and get flooded again, I’m afraid the water’s going to come back because they’re still letting water out of the dam up north and all that snow melt,” said Ed. “It’s going to come down the Platte and down the Missouri again, and we’ll be right back in the same boat we’re in.”

Frances has also been battling health issues, so another flood would not be good for her.

“We never used to get those floods, you know once every few years, ten years, we’d get a little water,” said Ed. “We never used to get those high floods like we’re getting now. Something needs to be changed on the river.”

Their home is in the unincorporated town of McPaul. That’s located off Interstate 29 west of Thurman. Interstate 29 access is still closed due to flood waters.

Pacific Junction Residents Allowed to Return With Evacuation Lifted For Part of Town

PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa — Evacuation orders were lifted for part of Pacific Junction, 30 days after the order came to evacuate town.

“Here in Pacific Junction, they have opened up the mandatory evacuation area west of Depot Street,” said Sheri Bowen, public information officer for the Mills County Emergency Management Agency. “The east side is still under that mandatory evacuation, however, we have seen several individuals who are going in to check on their homes in that area.”

Clydie Nelson came back Sunday and Monday to retrieve items from her home on the east side of town. She can’t stay yet, but she said it is important to get some items.

“Nice to be able to get home yesterday and get some of the stuff out to give my kids a piece of home, to where they knew they were going to be OK,” said Nelson. “I think it’s going to be hit and miss with who comes home and who doesn’t. I’m not afraid to rebuild, I’ve seen this from stud to stud, I’m not afraid to rebuild.”

Rebuilding will have to wait until the water is gone from town. Nelson said it was hard to walk into her home for the first time in a month this past weekend.

“I remember as a kid in ’93, playing in the ditches and in the creeks, and what not, nothing like this,” said Nelson. “Even in ’52 I’ve got a picture of my grandma down by the school. She’s about knee high in water, but nothing prepares you for this.”

Water in the Nelson home was clear to the ceiling. One bedroom ceiling collapsed due to the water.

Western Iowa Flooded Road Rebuild Could Top $90 Million

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa- Rebuilding the Interstates and state highways damaged in Iowa could cost around $70-90 million dollars, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The DOT directors from Nebraska and Iowa held a joint news conference to update the public on road status, and planned construction.

“Events like this require an enormous amount of coordination we certainly is DOT’s don’t work independently or in a vacuum,” said Mark Lowe, Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

“I think that’s one of the reasons were here today in our teams are meeting today and so frequently citizens don’t care what side of the river there on they need the system to work seamlessly,” said Kyle Schenweis, Director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Lowe told of work done to reopen I-680 west of I-29. He said there is a stretch of I-29 north of Council Bluffs where the road is still closed, due to a box culvert being washed away.

“Down to the southern segments that have more damage, a look at US 34, indicates we got significant pavement damage,” said Lowe. “The next segment is Iowa 2, this is an area where we still have roadways that remain underwater, has been going down or getting closer, I think the good news here is we’ve done a high-level assessment of the damages and we think the damages are minor.”

Lowe said that funds used for emergency road repairs will not impact other Iowa DOT road projects. Those funds come from a special disaster fund.