US Army Corps of Engineers
Omaha District

Levee System Status as of September 4, 2019

Significant flood risk remains in areas behind the federal levee systems in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. Water is still flowing through many breaches and other non-flowing breaches and damaged levee sections are at risk for water to flow behind the levee in the event of rising river levels.

The Corps of Engineers Omaha District has completed initial damage assessments of the 54 levee segments/systems that were damaged during the Spring of 2019 high water events. This damage encompassed the Missouri River downstream of Gavins Point Dam, in addition to the Platte, Elkhorn and other tributaries. Project Information Reports on each system have also been completed.

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State  Levee System Stream Right or Left Bank (looking downstream) Approximate Upstream End of System Approximate Downstream End of System Last Updated 
NE Ames Diking Platte Left 2.5 mi E of North Bend, NE 5 mi E of North Bend, NE 09/04/19
NE Broken Bow Mud Creek Left W. Edge of Broken Bow, NE W. Edge of Broken Bow, NE 09/04/19
NE Cedar Creek Platte River Right 1.5 mi E of Cedar Creek, NE 2.5 mi E of Cedar Creek, NE 09/04/19
NE Clear Creek Platte Right 2.5 mi S of Yutan, NE 2 mi NE of Ashland, NE 09/04/19
NE Columbus Loup River Left Shady Lake Rd in Columbus, NE Quail Run Golf Course in Columbus, NE 09/04/19
IA Council Bluffs Missouri River, Indian Creek, Mosquito Creek, and Upper Pony Creek Left/Right 1 mi N. of the Council Bluffs Water Treament Plant & 16th Ave. in Council Bluffs IA (Indian Creek) Mosquito Creek (Mid-American Energy Plant S of Council Bluffs, IA) 09/04/19
IA Hamburg - Main Ditch 6 IA Drainage Ditch 6 Left Bluff Rd in Hamburg, IA I-29 S of Hamburg IA 09/04/19
IA Ida Grove Odebolt  Creek Right Horn Memorial Hospital in Ida Grove, IA Horn Memorial Hospital in Ida Grove, IA 09/04/19
MO L536 Missouri Left 3.5 mi S of Rock Port, MO 2.5 mi W of Corning, MO 09/04/19
MO L550 Missouri Left 2.5 mi N of Watson, MO 3.5 mi S of Rock Port, MO 09/04/19
IA L561 Nish Missouri Left 2 mi S of Hamburg, IA 2.5 mi N of Watson, MO 09/04/19
NE-IA-MO L575 Missouri Left Thurman, IA 5.5 mi S of Hamburg, IA 09/04/19
IA L594 Missouri Left Bartlett, IA Thurman, IA 09/04/19
IA L601 Missouri Left 1.5 miles East of Pacific Junction, IA 2 miles Southeast of Bartlett, IA 09/04/19
IA L611-614  Missouri Left Mosquito Creek (Mid-American Energy Plant S of Council Bluffs, IA) 2 mi S of Pacific Junction, IA 09/04/19
NE Lake Wa Con-Da Missouri Right N End of Wa Con-Da Lake S End of Wa Con-Da Lake 09/04/19
NE Norfolk Elkhorn River Left/Right Northeast Community College in Norfolk, NE (Left) W. Eisenhower Ave in Norfolk, NE (Right) Hwy 275 in Norfolk, NE 09/04/19
NE Omaha Missouri River Right 1.5 mi S of the I-680 Missouri River Bridge 0.5 mi S of the South Omaha Veterans Memorial Bridge 09/04/19
NE Papillion Creek System Big Papillion Creek Right West Center Rd in Omaha, NE (Big Papio) 96th St. in Papillion, NE (West Papio) Capehart Rd in Bellevue, NE 09/04/19
NE
 
Pender Logan Creek Right Pender Municipal Airport S Edge of Pender, NE 09/04/19
NE Pierce N. Elkhorn River Right 549th Ave in Pierce, NE S. Edge of Pierce, NE 09/04/19
NE R520* Missouri Right 4.5 miles North of Rulo, Nebraska 2.5 miles North of Rulo, Nebraska 04/04/19
NE R548* Missouri Right 3.5 miles Northeast of Nemaha, NE 1 mi South of Nemaha, NE 04/04/19
NE R562* Missouri Right 4.5 miles Northwest of Peru, Nebraska 1.5 miles East of Peru, Nebraska 04/04/19
NE R573* Missouri Right 1.5 miles Northwest of OPPD - Nebraska City Coal Power Plant 1.5 miles South of OPPD - Nebraska City Coal Power Plant 04/04/19
NE R616-613 Missouri River & Big Papillion Creek Right (Missouri River) & Left (Big Papio) Bellevue Bridge (Missouri River) & Hwy 370 (Big Papio) Confluence of the Big Papillion Creek with the Missouri River 09/04/19

NE

Salt Creek System Salt Creek Left/Right Pioneers Blvd. in Lincoln,NE Superior St. in Lincoln, NE 09/04/19
NE Scribner Pebble Creek & Elkhorn River Right (Elkhorn River) & Left (Pebble Creek) Ring Levee around Scribner, NE Ring Levee around Scribner, NE 09/04/19
WY Sheridan Big and Little Goose Creeks Left/Right E Dow Street in Sheridan, WY W. of S. Sheridan Ave. 09/04/19
SD Sioux Falls Big Sioux River & Skunk Creek Left/Right N of the Sioux Falls Airport I-229 in Sioux Falls, SD 09/04/19
NE Union and No Name Dike Platte Left Hwy 77 in Fremont, NE 2 mi S Valley, NE 09/04/19
NE Wakefield Logan Creek Right N. Edge of Wakefield, NE 858th Rd in Wakefield, NE 09/04/19
NE Waterloo Elkhorn River Right Ring Levee around Waterloo, NE Ring Levee around Waterloo, NE 09/04/19
NE Western Sarpy Platte Left 3.5 mi W of Gretna, NE 2 mi NE of Ashland, NE 09/04/19
NE West Point Elkhorn River Left Coburn Street in West Point, NE S. of Garfield St. in West Point, NE 09/04/19

*This levee system is inactive in the PL 84-99 Program making it ineligible for Rehabilitation Assistance at this time.

 

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Quick Facts

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The flood of 2019 set record levels for 45 river gages, including five on the Missouri River.  Sixteen federal levees were overtopped and breached, an additional nine federal levees were overtopped sustaining significant damages but did not breach, and four non-federal levees were overtopped and breached.

A bomb cyclone storm dumped up to 2.25 inches of rainfall on a heavy wet snowpack across the region between Tuesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 14. The rain fell on a plains snowpack that held 3 or more inches of snow water equivalent in Nebraska and Iowa with even higher amounts in eastern South Dakota. In north central South Dakota and North Dakota that snowmelt is forecast to occur in the coming weeks. Waters from this flood event came from unregulated tributaries that enter the Missouri River below the large main stem storage reservoirs.

Water remains on the floodplain limiting access to assess damages to levees along the Missouri River. Two levee breaches along the Platte River have initial closures in place that stopped water from flowing through the breaches. Contracts have been awarded for initial closures on the Missouri River to return the river to the channel.

In response to this record setting event, the Omaha District commander established the Omaha Systems Restoration Team as a special execution cell to focus the vast skills and abilities of the district to engage in time-sensitive rehabilitation of flood controls structures in the Missouri River Basin. 

Q. Why did so many levees fail? The ‘bomb cyclone’ storm impacted the unregulated Elkhorn River, eastern Nebraska Platte River, and lower Missouri River basins and overwhelmed the design capacity of the levee systems in the region. The storm followed one of the wettest winters on record for this region, and a cold February. The ground was frozen, snow covered, with numerous ice jams on the tributaries. The storm dropped 1.5”-3” of rain across six states BELOW the main stem dams, and the ensuing runoff was unregulated/uncontrolled. The volume of water overtopped levees and breaches occurred. Kansas River project releases were limited to mitigate the Missouri River crest downstream from the confluence.

Q. How long until the waters recede? Unregulated runoff from the rapid snowmelt is already passing through the basins and the water is beginning to recede. The Corps' number one priority in its operations is life safety. Our current focus is to protect life, mitigate risks to flooding events, and repair damages due to the recent events in the Basin.

Q. Why did this particular event happen so quickly? On March 13, a heavy rainfall event totaling 2 to 4 inches of precipitation fell over Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa on top of a snowpack containing 2 to 3 inches of liquid content. Due to the frozen and saturated soils, very little of the rainfall and snowmelt infiltrated into the soil. Rather, it became direct runoff into streams and rivers throughout Nebraska and Iowa resulting in record high flows on many of the unregulated streams and rivers in the lower Missouri River basin.

Q. Why didn’t the Corps give more warning or communicate more ahead of the flood? The National Weather Service is the official forecast and warning entity. This event developed very rapidly. On Tuesday, 3/12, the Omaha District held flood fight training for the levee sponsors, County Emergency Managers, and State Emergency Managers in which the upcoming forecast was discussed. Before this event began and since, Corps has been in constant contact with state and local emergency management offices. We continue to proactively inform the public of the impacts of the runoff to the federal system and our efforts to support local flood fighters. We will continue to do so through the duration of this event and well after. The Corps also began hosting daily CODEL calls March 13.

Q. What could the Corps have done to prevent this flood? Most of the inflows were from unregulated tributaries. The Corps helped mitigate the risks of flooding, by reduced Fort Randall releases to 0 cfs to lessen inflow into the Gavins Point reservoir. However, the Gavins Point project, which is a re-regulation project used to smooth out fluctuating releases from upstream projects, contains only a minimal amount (about 100,000 acre-feet, see Figure 1) of the Mainstem System’s flood control storage (less than 1%). Thus, the minimal Gavins Point reservoir’s available flood control storage was quickly filled. All 14 Gavins Point spillway gates were used to increase the reservoir storage, a practice referred to as surcharging. Even by surcharging the pool to 1212.3 feet, 2.3 above the top of the Exclusive Flood Control Zone, the Corps needed to increase Gavins Point releases to 100,000 cfs for 6 hours so that the gates would not be overtopped.

Q. Is this flood event bigger than the 2011 flood? All floods are different. The 2019 flood is meteorologically, hydrologically, and geographically different.

Q. Why are you repairing some levees before you repair others? The District is currently focused on stopping the flow into the entry breaches. After these are temporarily closed, work will begin to bring the levee system up to its’ original design capacity.

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