“It’s going to be a long summer and a long fall,” Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Director Doug Reed told members of the Noon Rotary Club Thursday.
Reed chronicled the history of flooding in Pottawattamie County that began March 13 and continues today.
He said his office released its first situation report, stating that flooding was imminent, on March 11, a report that was followed the next day by a federal flood warning.
With flooding beginning on March 13, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it was increasing the release of water from the Gavins Point Reservoir in South Dakota from 27,000 cubic feet per second to 32,000 cfs. One day later, the Gavins Point release was upped to 80,000 cfs.
On March 16, with the Missouri River Level at Council Bluffs at 34.2 feet — 5.2 feet above flood stage — the Corps of Engineers reduced the flow from Gavins Point from 80,000 cfs to 54,000 cfs.
The release from the Gavins Point reservoir is currently set at 70,000 cfs of slightly more, and Reed said the corps had indicated it will remain there for the remainder of the summer.
Reed — as have others — warned that residents of the western parts of Council Bluffs, where ground water levels have remained high because of the ongoing flooding, should continue to monitor sump pump discharges for the presence of sand or dirt.
Those who find sand or dirt in the sump pump discharge should immediately turn their sump pump off and allow the basement to flood. Failure to do so could cause the foundation of the house to collapse as a result of hydraulic pressure.
“Flooding is better than a collapsed foundation,” Reed said.
He said that 172 Pottawattamie County families have applied for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a number he anticipates will increase with the ongoing flooding.
If there’s a bright spot in the current flooding situation, Reed said, it might be in the fact that those coming to Council Bluffs for the start RAGBRAI on July 19 “should find it easier to dip their tires in the Missouri River.”