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Levee break threatens Iowa town

Levee failure prompts evacuations along Missouri River

KANSAS CITY (UPI) | June 8, 2011

"There are going to be a lot of displaced people"

—Gen. Derek Hill

Sandbags are going up along the Missouri River as far downstream as Kansas City, Mo., but the focus has shifted to Hamburg, Iowa, officials said.

Across the state line from Missouri on Interstate 29, a levee failure at Hamburg is causing concern, The (Independence, Mo.) Examiner reported Wednesday.

The Iowa Department of Transportation said Interstate 29 is likely to close at Hamburg and north of Council Bluffs as the Missouri River flooding worsens.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing record amounts of water from the six dams on the upper Missouri because the reservoirs behind those dams are full due to massive amounts of rainfall in May and melting snowpack.

The flooding is expected to last for weeks.

Gen. Derek Hill, operations director for Iowa's Homeland Security Department, told The Des Moines (Iowa) Register the entire Iowa stretch of the Missouri River is threatened.

"There are going to be a lot of displaced people," Hill said.

The state has promised to tell farmers of power cutoffs, particularly so livestock can be moved.

Recreational boating all the way from St. Louis upriver to Sioux City, Iowa, has been halted by the U.S. Coast Guard and commercial operations have ceased voluntarily.

Towns along the Missouri River raced against rising water Tuesday, with thousands of volunteers filling sandbags for temporary levees.

A temporary levee shipped by truck from California was installed in Parkville, S.D., The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported. Volunteers like Brian Pringle, a local farmer, remember 1993 when his house was covered almost to the roof.

"It's my civic duty to be here," he said.

Forecasters were predicting flood levels below those of 1993. In Kansas City, the prediction is that the river will crest at 39 feet -- 7 feet above flood stage and almost 10 feet below the 48.87 feet of the 1993 record.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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