Flooding across the Midwest over the weekend caused residents to flee as levees were breached by the rising floodwaters and emergency workers had to use boats to rescue stranded residents of towns along the Platte, Missouri and Elkhorn Rivers, and at least two people have perished. The rising floodwaters are the aftermath of the massive storm system that pushed through the nation’s midsection on Thursday and Friday, pushing rivers to record flood levels in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota, according to the Associated Press. Rising waters continued late into Sunday forcing more evacuations.
- Rising floodwaters in the Missouri River led to the closure of Interstate 29 from the Missouri border with Iowa to Missouri Valley, Iowa 85 miles to the north.
- The Missouri National Guard relocated its C-130s from Rosecrans Air National Guard base in St. Joseph, Missouri, according to the Associated Press.
- One-third of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska is flooded with dozens of buildings damaged and efforts to hold the Missouri River back there were halted because they failed.
- The Governors of Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas have declared a state of emergency as flooding in those states worsened.
- Amtrak announced that because of flooding its Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City is canceled today.
- The U.S. Coast Guard shut down all barge traffic on the Missouri River for a seventy-mile stretch south of Omaha, Nebraska.
- The Missouri River flooding also could force the temporary shut down of the Cooper Nuclear Station, a power plant about 60 miles south of Omaha
The Missouri River flooding is expected to continue, according to the National Weather Service, and is expected to crest later this week at 29.3 feet – two feet above major flood level. Many of these locations had already seen home buyouts from flood-prone areas and additional levees because of historic flood events in the last ten years. And crews were still working into the weekend to restore power in Denver caused by winter storm Ulmer, and to clean up from tornadoes in Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Alabama.
Why This Matters: The flooding won’t just stop in Missouri. All that water has to go somewhere. The Corps of Engineers, that manages the whole Missouri and Mississippi River system will be on alert for high floodwaters to work their way downstream into the lower Mississippi River in a few weeks. As one weather forecaster put it, this is just a “dress rehearsal” for what is to come in April on the Mississippi River. The flood water is like a bulge in a hose – with nowhere to go but down the river, because so much of the banks of these rivers have “hardened” with levees and dams in order to use them as floating highways and to protect farms and towns. But if these “hundred” year floods are the new normal as scientists believe, we need to think about how to deal with these extreme events – they are no longer extraordinary. And we are convinced that this is why people in states like Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri want candidates to talk about climate change as the election season gets into full swing.