There’s good news on the flooding Missouri River. Residents of the tiny border town of Hamburg, Iowa, who were ordered to evacuate two months ago are being allowed to return.
Hamburg Fire Chief Dan Sturm says the levee holding back flood water has “stood the test of time,” but he’s advising residents against moving everything back into their homes.
Instead, they should only take necessities. There’s still four to five of water against the levee and the water covers thousands of acres of farmland.
“Until that’s down and gone…there’s still a danger there,” Sturm said. “But, we felt comfortable with the integrity of the levee and the way it’s held with no leaks. So, we felt it was time to start letting people come back in if they felt like doing so.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start decreasing releases from upstream reservoirs next week, but the floodwaters are expected to remain through late September or early October.
Around 31 families and six businesses in Hamburg were placed under a mandatory evacuation in early June. Sturm believes everyone will return.
“I certainly hope so. I think most of them will. Some of them are opting not to move in at this time, just because they realize there’s still water there. There’s still a danger, so they’re just waiting,” Sturm said.
Crews continue to work on protecting the levee. Sturm says they recently replaced the plastic that covers the structure to battle erosion.
He says a wind storm last weekend, with 60-plus mile per hour winds, knocked over trees and power lines and ripped some of the new plastic from the levee.
“That’s been one of the trouble spots, keeping the plastic on there,” Sturm said. If the levee failed, the lower portion of Hamburg would be submerged under ten feet of standing water.