By BRENT MARTIN, St. Joseph Post
Repair of the broken levee system along the Missouri River has been slow going, as a wet fall and a cold winter has delayed assessment of the damage and construction work.
Emergency Management Specialist Mike Dulin with the Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it has been especially slow going north of St. Joseph.
“But in that Holt County area north of St. Joe it’s been a real challenge getting out there and just completing our damage assessments,” Dulin tells St. Joseph Post.
Dulin says even survey crews have had difficulty getting to some levees to assess the damage.
“With everything soggy and frozen the way it is it’s a real challenge to complete those damage assessments,” according to Dulin.
Floodwaters from a swollen Missouri River spilled over the river banks, cutting a path of destruction in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas truly breathtaking in scope.
“So, overall, we’re looking at a thousand miles of levee system on both sides of the Missouri River and some levees over in Kansas, too,” Dulin says. “I mean, it’s everything, from sod kill and erosion, scour, all the way to breaches being the worst case.”
The Kansas City District of the Corps is working on 67 repair projects, with damage estimated at $100 million. Floodwaters badly damaged 20 federal levees and took out many non-federal levees that are eligible to receive federal money for repairs. That doesn’t even count the damage done to the levee system north of Holt County, from Atchison County to Omaha, which likely will top the KC District total, according to Dulin.
The Corps of Engineers has been able to receive the amount of money needed to make repairs if the weather and conditions finally allow repair to proceed.
Dulin says it has been some time since the Corps faced such a daunting challenge.
“This is the largest levee rehab effort that we’ve seen since 1993,” Dulin says. “So, there’s a very real possibility this could take us up to two years to complete all repairs. So, obviously some repairs will be done much sooner than that, but to fix everything it could take us until the spring of 2021.”