Releases from the dams upstream on the Missouri River have dropped and will drop farther later this month as the Army Corps of Engineers looks ahead to the end of the flood of 2011.
Historic levels of 160,000 cubic feet per second have poured out of Gavins Point Dam, now at 150,000, heading to 90-Thousand by the end of the month. Then, the Missouri River might begin to recede back within its banks, the flood ending; a massive, widespread flood that Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General John McMahon insists no one could have adequately prepared for.
“What caught us off guard this year was not predictable,” McMahon says. “It was the tremendous, historic amounts of rain that nobody anticipated and set new records, going back 114 years.”
McMahon says that once the upstream flows drop enough, the Corps will begin inspecting levees. Corps officials insist that the levee system is performing well, but also express concern about how saturated they are and how long they have had to hold back floodwaters. One Corps official says he doesn’t want anyone to become complacent in the final stage of the flood.
The Corps projects the Missouri River could flow back within its banks by the end of August in Sioux City, by mid-September in Omaha and by the end of September or the beginning of October in Rulo.
McMahon says the top priority is to get people back into their homes, farms and businesses and, then, to prepare for the 2012 season which begins March 1st.