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Missouri River Starts To Fall; Iowa DOT Expects Minor Road Damage

Iowa 511 / https://hb.511ia.org/
Iowa DOT
Iowa DOT's Iowa 511 camera showing I-29 North near exit 66 on Sept. 23, 2018.

The latest round of flooding along the Missouri River will likely slowly begin to subside over the next several days. The river reached its peak near Council Bluffs on Monday and is expected to fall below minor flood stage there on Saturday.
Data shows the Missouri River crested over 30.5 feet Monday and is forecasted to fall below minor flood stage (29 feet) at the Omaha, Nebraska gauge on Saturday, Sept. 28. But more rain in the forecast for the Upper Missouri River Basin and higher releases from upstream dams mean the river is at risk of rising again.

“We’ve got a while until we can really rest easy because the river is going to be high the next two months,” said David Pearson, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Omaha/Valley, Nebraska. “And another big heavy rain upstream will cause another big rise and we just have to be vigilant for that.”

The Iowa Department of Transportation continues to monitor portions of I-29 and I-680 in western Iowa where water has spilled onto roadways. Traffic Operations Engineer Austin Yates said the Iowa DOT is hoping for water to be off of the roads by Saturday. Once water is off the roads, they can inspect them, clear the debris, make repairs, then reopen them.

“We’re expecting minor damage,” Yates said. “Meaning that it’s going to be limited to the shoulders, basically, there’s not going to be any structural damage to the driving surface.”

Transportation officials on Friday closed a section of Interstate-29 in both directions from north of Council Bluffs to Loveland, and are rerouting traffic via I-80 and I-680. They also closed a 3-mile portion of I-680 in both directions from the Missouri River to the I-29 interchange near Crescent.

In Pottawattamie County, where floodwaters breached three protective structures last week, emergency management specialists say they have not discovered any more breaches since. Michael Bertacini, a county emergency management specialist, said they’re still having trouble accessing the area to be able to plug the breaches and stop water from flowing in.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.