Grand Pass situation stabilizes after levee break

Thursday, May 10, 2007
Grand Pass farmer Don Arth shows the temporary lake sitting atop several thousand acres of cropland in the Grand Pass bottoms. The area was flooded Tuesday afternoon, May 8, after several breaches occurred in secondary levees. The main levee protecting area homes was holding up well Thursday morning, Arth said. (Photo by Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

The Missouri River took custody of several thousand acres of cropland Tuesday, May 8, when several breaches occurred in secondary levees, according to Grand Pass farmer Don Arth.

But Thursday morning, May 10, the main levee appeared to be holding well, he said, and the water level had begun to recede slightly by about 10 a.m.

At low points in the main levee the river is within a foot or two of the levee top, but in most places the levee is well above the river level.

Arth estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 acres of land was flooded when breaks in the levee nearest the river occurred starting about 2 p.m. Tuesday, but Arth was relieved that the situation seemed to have stabilized since.

"It's bad to lose your crops, but it's worse to lose your home," he said. Arth's home had three feet of floodwater in it during the 1993 flood, so he speaks from experience.

Seven homes are protected by the main levee near Arth's home, he said.

Crews are still monitoring the main levee regularly, he said, inspecting it every hour or so.

An estimated 30 or more utility vehicles have been running day and night since Monday to inspect levees and shuttle sandbags to problem spots.

The National Weather Service was predicting Thursday morning that the Missouri River at nearby Waverly might edge back up slightly Thursday afternoon before beginning to recede as the "flood wave" moves through central Missouri.

The river peaked at 30.1 feet Tuesday afternoon at Waverly and has been slowly receding since.

While the situation on the northwest side of the county begins to improve, major flooding continues at Miami, where at 7 a.m. Thursday the river remained near its peak of 29.3 feet, more than 11 feet above flood stage.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency Tuesday, activating the state's emergency operations center and authorizing state departments to assist however needed.

Although National Guard and USDA representatives reportedly have visited the Grand Pass bottoms, the work of battling the flood has been done by local volunteers, and Arth said he's very grateful for their help.

"It's amazing how many people will come to help," he said.

Tuesday there were more than 100 people, according to one estimate, filling sandbags, delivering bags to levees and providing food and drink for workers.

Students from area schools pitched in, too, according to Presiding Commissioner Becky Plattner, who as the county's emergency coordinator has been actively involved in the sandbagging efforts and consulting with state officials about the situation in Saline County.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: