Emergency contracts could soon be launched to repair two levees badly damaged by this year’s flooding.

Emergency work to begin soon on two heavily-damaged Missouri levees (Photo courtesy of KFEQ)

Jud Kneuvean with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City office says damage to the levees along Mill Creek and the Big Tarkio River have caused real problems in northwest Missouri, from Corning to Craig.

“Being in the degraded state that they are, it allows flow to circumvent in portions of the flood plain there that normally you would not see water,” Kneuvean tells Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph. “The damage to the federal levee system that is upstream of that, it really increases the likelihood that those folks will continue to be flooded.”

Kneuvean says the Corps is close to devising a fix for those levees located in Holt County which run perpendicular to the Missouri River. He says any repairs made this year will be temporary and will not restore the levees to their pre-flood condition.

Floodwaters heavily damaged the two levees along the Missouri tributaries of Mill Creek and the Big Tarkio River.

“The breaches there were quite extensive,” according to Kneuvean, who says the Corps used sonar to measure a breach 81-foot deep at Mill Creek. “The one at the Big Tarkio was 51 feet deep, but the scour hole that was created as a result of the flood was almost 28 acres in size.”

It will take a tremendous amount of rock to repair the levees, but something must be done to relieve flood-ravaged communities in northwest Missouri which seemingly haven’t been able to catch a break since mid-March.

“One of the things we have to do to allow folks up there to get back to some normalcy is close off that water that is flowing through the flood plain,” says Kneuvean, who adds the Corps is concerned about those two tributaries in particular. “If it’s not repaired, you cannot restore normal flow back through those channels, back to the river.”

This year’s flooding has wrecked the Missouri River levee system. Repairs at Mill Creek and the Big Tarkio are part of the largest levee rehabilitation effort undertaken by the Corps since 1993.

By Brent Martin of Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph