June 25, 2011 / 6:56 PM / 8 years ago

Levee breach in Iowa along Missouri River prompts evacuations

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - A levee breach on Saturday near Missouri Valley, Iowa flooded farmland and threatened to impact U.S. Highway 30, which connects Iowa and Nebraska over the Missouri River, officials said.

An aerial view of a farm north of Council Bluffs, Iowa, submerged in Missouri River flood waters June 24, 2011. The Missouri River, swollen by heavy rains and melting snow, has been flooding areas from Montana through Missouri. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom

“It is emptying into agricultural lands and the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge,” said Larry Oliver, emergency management coordinator for Harrison County, Iowa.

The breach occurred on a secondary levee about a mile south of Highway 30. Residents of about 18 homes were told to evacuate because of the potential for flooding, Oliver said.

“We are monitoring the flow,” said Oliver. “There’s a lot of water moving there.”

The Iowa Department of Transportation is monitoring the situation and keeping Highway 30 open for now, according to spokeswoman Dena Gray-Fisher.

“We’re not expecting it to impact the roadway right away, so the road is still open,” Gray-Fisher said. The highway connects Iowa to Blair, Neb., north of Omaha.

Heavy rains and snow melt along the Missouri River valley have flooded areas from Montana through Missouri, forcing residents to shore up protections and evacuate their homes.

From Gavin’s Point Dam near Yankton, S.D. to Rulo, Neb., the Missouri is expected to reach the highest levels seen since 1952, according to the National Weather Service.

Bridges from Nebraska to Iowa and Missouri are already out for 112 miles from south of Plattsmouth, Neb. to St. Joseph, Mo. for safety reasons due to flooding, Gray-Fisher said. Portions of Interstate 29 in Iowa also are closed.

Heavy rains flooded Omaha streets on Saturday, and the weekend rain was not over for the Missouri Valley area, according to NWS meteorologist Dave Fobert in Omaha.

Thunderstorms were expected across North and South Dakota Saturday night into Sunday, moving into eastern Nebraska on Sunday night into Monday. Fobert said some areas could get an inch of rain, but “it’s hard to say” how this will impact river flooding.

Writing and reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Additional reporting by Michael Avok in Nebraska; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst

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