Statewide Iowa — The US Army Corps of Engineers is agreeing to consider changes to levees along the Missouri River in an effort to avoid a repeat of recent major floods. State officials in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska worked together to suggest changes to reduce the risks following the 2019 flood. Colonel Travis Rayfield, commander of the Corps’ Kansas City District, says federal law restricts what they can do when rebuilding levees that were broken by floodwaters.
Two southwestern Iowa towns, Hamburg and Pacific Junction, were heavily damaged in the 2019 flood, with Hamburg alone losing more than 70 homes. Rayfield says the new agreement comes in two parts, and the first will study the river’s flow from South Dakota all the way to St. Louis.
Rayfield says the Corps will also work to find spots where the water is not moving adequately downstream, like in Holt County in northwest Missouri. Rayfield says floods start and end locally, but this new arrangement is about coming up with solutions all the way up to the federal level.
The Corps of Engineers will factor major floods in 1993, 2011 and 2019 into the study. Under current federal law, the Corps is only allowed to rebuild levees.