Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Missouri River Flood of 2011

Pictures below show the devastation of the Missouri River flood along with the success that has taken place. The front page of the website provides some good views of how bad things became.  It was the middle of May when we first were given an indication of what was about to take place.  Living about two-thirds of a mile from the river, when authorities speak about a flood of "Biblical Proportions," we listened.  Going to the levee daily is not a big thing when you live so close you can walk right down to the new bridge across the river.  The state has so graciously provided a bike and a walking trail that runs along the "old South Omaha Bridge Road."  The old "South Omaha Bridge" was re-named some time ago as the Veterans Memorial Bridge, and the road referred to as the Veterans Memorial Highway.  Having lived here the majority of my life, a clear vision of the history for the area exists.

As of this writing, it appears the worst may be over.  The river has dropped almost a foot even with steady out flow from Gavins Point Dam.  The work that has taken place to maintain the levees has been outstanding and is still going on.  The levee west and south of our home had work going on around the clock.  It looked like daylight at night as the heavy equipment worked on the levee and the trucks came and went in an endless stream.  Pictures of some of the work are shown below. 

While our home is above the known flood plain, with the term "Biblical Proportions," it could mean a new flood plain was about to develop. The trips to the levee showed a slowly increasing water level.  At first the water was at the base of the levee.  There was no current here as there is nothing but standing timber to the west and to the river's edge.  The wildlife started moving out, and deer with fawns were plentiful in the fields just to our west.  A fox and her kits moved into a pile of timber along a road and provided some enertainment, and then they were gone.  Other creatures not so nice made their way out of the flooded area.  Fortunately for them and us, just east of the levee is standing timber and that remained dry. 

The water rose quickly as the Corp of Engineers raised the discharge level to 160,000 cubic feet per second.  It was not long and the water was just five feet below the top of the levee.  Seep water formed in spots behind the levee and this became a concern.  The fields to the south of us became totally flooded.  Then came a four inch rain.  That was an attention getter as it caused the river to rise.  As of this writing, it was reported that the Corp will slowly start lowering the discharge rate.  With the intense heat we are now experiencing, increased evaporation will help the situation.
With slowly falling water levels, everyone I know now feels confident the worst is over.

I had great response by posting the article by Joe Herring "The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland."  If you enjoyed the article, you can subscribe to future articles at his website, and also read past articles. I have subscribed.

The first week of June.  The top of the levee is 10 feet above the level of the water at the base of the levee.  It is 1/4 mile to the river from this spot.  I have hiked the whole river bottom south of this point. 

Looking to the back side of the levee which would be east.  All of that is private ground flush with turkey and deer The original river channel is just inside the tree line and became a serious problem with seep water.

See if you can find the deer in the tall grass.  This is a drainage ditch just east of the levee.

The Missouri River at peak flood stage during the first week of July.  To the left is Iowa

Notice how high the river is at the same location compared to a few short weeks ago.  Also you can see the work that has gone on with the expanded roadway down the top of the levee.  The water here is about 5ive feet from the top of the levee.

Seep blanket just behind the levee.  You can compare the second picture to the one now to see how much work was done to keep the levee from breaching.

Levee straight south of the highway and looking northwest.  The field is totally flooded, but the seep blanket is plainly visible.

Looking west north west from the same position as above, the water here closer to the top of the levee. A farm house is to the left of the picture but not seen as only the roof was visible above the water. From this position on top of the levee to the river's edge is about a mile.
My fishing has been shut down as I have not wanted to leave our home for any length of time.  However a farmer needed help with invading deer.  He obtained depradation tags from the state after they examined his fields, and I have helped him thin the herd.  The meat goes to a processor in Omaha and is donated to the shelters.  The next several articles deal with hunting deer in the summer.   It is nothing like the fall and winter.

Sixty-five days to go and I will be in Wyoming on an Elk and Bear hunt with Bob Barlow of Barlow Outfitting (  It is time to start riding and get my backside in shape plus heavier workouts than I usually do.

Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck.


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