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River continues to erode levee in Grand Pass bottoms

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Matt Thorp pushes rocks into a hole to try to stop the Missouri River from completely eroding a private levee near Grand Pass. On Sunday, the entire bank was rocked, but by Tuesday morning the rock and a large piece of the levee had disappeared into the river.
Even as the Missouri River recedes from the Flood of 2011, members of the Saline-Lafayette Levee district found out Tuesday, Oct. 4, their fight isn't over. On Tuesday morning, they discovered another large piece of a private levee located in the Grand Pass bottoms, had sloughed off into the river.

"We had it all filled full of rock and this morning it was gone," said Kelly Thorp. The rock, along with a large section of the dirt levee had disappeared into the river. Since flooding began in May, several large sections of river bank and trees in front of the levee have also been washed away.

On Aug. 1, another huge piece of the levee fell into the river. They were able to save the levee then, while the river was still very high, by dumping large pieces of concrete into the hole. Since then they have used about 8,000 tons of rock to reinforce the levee in several different places.

Corey Russell moves dirt back behind the levee, while Matt Thorp pushes rock into the hole. After the rock on the bank and part of the dirt levee started to erode into the river, the decision was made to save the soil.
The river has receded about 6 feet since early September, dropping to just below flood level. Even as it dropped, it still was cutting into the levee.

"The river cuts differently at different levels," said Thorp.

However, after securing 2,000 more tons of rock last week, through the State Emergency Management Agency, they had thought the worst was behind them.

Since the Flood of 2011 began in May the bank and trees once extending about 40-50 feet in front of the levee has been washed away. Even after 8,000 tons of rock and numerous loads of concrete, the river is now taking its toll on the levee.
"We were just going to patch up places with it, now it's all going to go towards that hole," said Thorp. "We've got to push it in there to keep it from eating it out."

By Tuesday afternoon, large pieces of the levee continued to break off into the river. Thorp and other members of the district made the decision to pull the top off the levee with a track hoe and move it back.

"We are pulling it back, to save the soil, so it doesn't slough off into the river," said Thorp, adding they will try to fill the hole with rock to stop the river. Then they will build another levee behind the original.

"The more dirt we can save, the less we have to go get out of the field," he explained.

On Tuesday, seven trucks running all day had already put about 600 tons of rock into the hole.

On Friday, Sept. 29, the river dropped below the 20 foot flood stage at Waverly for the first time in 128 days. The National Weather Service has predicted it to keep dropping.

"If it gets down to 16 (feet) we've never had any cuts, but who knows, it's 18 something right now," said Thorp.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at mgorrell@marshallnews.com

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