After major flooding in 2019, Missouri’s damaged levee system protecting parts of Northwest Missouri is undergoing repairs, while the status of some levees is still up in the air.
According to a press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Missouri River Levee System L-575 sustained “significant damage.” The damage included seven breaches during the flood event in March of 2019 alone. The corps said they expect all of those levees to be fixed completely by March 1. The flooding the state of Missouri receives is large in part due to water released from the Gavins Point Dam in Cedar County, Nebraska and Yankton County, South Dakota.
“2019 has presented the team with a host of challenges that were not faced during previous flood events, such as finding accessible borrow material,” Bret Budd, the Chief of the Omaha Systems Restoration Team. “It has only been through continual coordination with sponsors, stakeholders, agencies and other USACE Districts — including our sister district in Kansas City — that we have been able to keep the levee repair efforts moving forward.”
In Buchanan County, the Sugar Lake/Rushville levee has always been prone to breaches, causing Lewis and Clark village to flood. Last year water flooded that community three separate times leaving water on the ground until wintertime.
“The city of St. Joseph and the county met Thursday morning to talk about the upcoming flood season,” Bill Brinton, the Emergency Management Coordinator of Buchanan County said. “It was mentioned that the city had gotten word from the Corps of Engineers they do anticipate some repairs to be around the first of April (on the Sugar Lake/Rushville levee).”
The four levee systems in Buchanan County are all damaged. The Sugar Lake/Rushville levee received the most damage. According to U.S. Corps of Engineers Kansas City District, the damage to these levees was moderate, involving erosion, and not a top priority fix as the ones up north.
It’s not currently known if the levee by Lewis and Clark will be repaired before the 2020 flood season or what those repairs will entail.
“Part of the problem is that once we have had repairs made it takes a while for it to become solid again,” Brinton said. “What happened in 2019 is the levees had all the frost and ice on them and when the water got to it it all melted and they just failed. It is our understanding that they don’t have as much snow up north as they thought they were going to get so there is potential for flooding.”
Brinton did not know how the Corps deals with these specific levee repairs. Federal levees have a base layer of sand, followed by dirt and then a layer of rock. He said that the levee they have now is all grass so he can’t be positive if they will be adding stone to them or not.