Levees up and down the Missouri River have now been holding back floodwaters for 60 days and the Army Corps of Engineers says they are holding up under the pressure.
Emergency Management Chief Jud Kneuven in the Corps’ Kansas City office says the federal levee system proved itself in 1993. He expects the system to hold back floodwaters in 2011, no matter how long the floodwater laps up against them.
“They’ll be able to continue to perform and we expect them to,” Kneuven tells reporters during a Missouri River Joint Information Center teleconference.
A reporter on the conference call reminds Kneuven the levees didn’t have to perform for as great a length of time in 1993 as they have, and will be required to do, this year.
“Barring (that) we don’t see water at the top of these levee systems again and we don’t see water going over the top of them, they should be expected that they will continue to perform,” Kneuven responds.
Kneuven says the seepage and sand boils some have observed around the levees shouldn’t cause alarm. He says those naturally occur at levees holding back water for this long. Kneuven says they have been constructed to withstand the pressure.
“If you flew the river like we did each and every day and seeing the number of sand boils along the entire levee system you’d be amazed how much punishment the levee system can take,” Kneuven says, “but it is taking it and we expect it to continue to take it.”
The Corps, according to Kneuven, is closely monitoring the levees and will act quickly should there be a threat to homes or farmland. Thousands of homes along the Missouri River have already been flooded; residents long have evacuated their houses. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland have been flooded. Releases from dams upstream on the Missouri will drop slightly at the beginning of next month, but that will bring only minor relief to a swollen river well over its banks. Floodwaters along the Missouri aren’t expected to recede until September, at the earliest.