Interstate closings: The south- and northbound lanes of Interstate 29 between milepost 55 (North 25th Street in Council Bluffs) and the I-29/U.S.30 interchange at milepost 75 (near Missouri Valley) are closed. I-680 is closed from the I-29/680 interchange (exit 61 near Crescent) in Iowa to North 30th Street in Omaha. (exit 13). This closure includes the Mormon Bridge across the Missouri River. I-680 is closed in Iowa from exit 21, near Beebeetown, to I-29, near Loveland.
Levee patrols: About 30 Nebraska State Patrol SWAT team members and Nebraska National Guard soldiers are monitoring checkpoints along levees in South Sioux City, Neb., to deter gawkers. Lt. Steve Terry, with the state patrol in Norfolk, said Monday that people curious to see the swollen Missouri River have been driving on the earthen levees, which could weaken the protective walls. Terry said people caught driving on the levees could be cited for trespassing and their vehicles could be towed.
Detours ahead:The Iowa Department of Transportation has launched a new map to help travelers navigate flooded roads. The Google-based map can be found via the department's website, www.iowadot.gov, by clicking on the “Flooding Ahead” link. Several roads in western Iowa, including a portion of Interstate 29 near Council Bluffs, have been closed because of Missouri River flooding.
The watchmen: A plan to hire full-time levee watchers in Council Bluffs has been scrapped. The city began taking applications last week for 26 positions. The idea was to hire people to watch the levee around the clock for $12 an hour. However, an Iowa National Guard unit out of Des Moines was given that job, said Ellen Stageman of the city's Human Resources Department. It's good news for the city, but not so good for the 300 to 350 people who applied.
Proclamation: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has issued a proclamation to help car and travel trailer dealers and vehicle recycling companies affected by flooding along the Missouri River. Branstad issued the proclamation Monday. Iowa code provisions and fees associated with the operation of the sale of new and used vehicles and travel trailers, and for performing vehicle recycling have been suspended for 30 days. The move allows businesses to move vehicles and establish lots away from their principle business locations. The proclamation will affect businesses in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury Counties.
SWAT: The Nebraska State Patrol’s SWAT team is patrolling the Missouri River levees protecting South Sioux City, Neb. The patrol deployed a 15-member team to the northeast Nebraska community over the weekend to help provide security around the new 7,000-foot-long levee and to help monitor evacuated areas. The Missouri River at South Sioux City has already swelled to more than 33-feet-deep, and officials predict it will surge higher later this week as more water is released from dams upstream. The State Patrol presence helps free up local police officers and deputies for other duties. The Nebraska Army National Guard also has 12 soldiers in South Sioux City monitoring the levees.
Rain runoff: Rain runoff from powerful storms that moved across Iowa forced closure of Iowa Highway 92 in Mahaska County. The Iowa Transportation Department said traffic is closed in both directions between County Road T-25 and Iowa Highway 163. The department said the closure could last into Wednesday. A flash flood warning remained posted for Mahaska and northeastern Marion Counties, southeast of Des Moines. The National Weather Service says up to 5 inches of rain fell in some areas.
Iowa roads: Iowa Department of Transportation officials said rain this week may overpower efforts to keep the westbound lanes of Highway 2 open in Fremont County. Rain is forecast on and off through Thursday. Flood and groundwater levels are expected to rise. Highway 2 connects southwest Iowa with Nebraska City, but officials will close it if necessary. The right-hand eastbound lane is already closed, officials said.
Washington County: The following Washington County road closings are effective immediately: County Road P14 from P33 to the Cottonwood Marina, County Road 35 to P14, County Road P33 from P14 to County Road 33 and County Road 10, County Road 16 from P33 to the 13,000 block of County Road 16 to P33. The following area is closed with limited access to local residents for the sole purpose of mandatory evacuation: Blair City limits P33 to County Road P14.
Bluffs trails: Council Bluffs is closing portions of its trail system that utilize the federal levee system. This includes trails along the Missouri River, Indian Creek and Mosquito Creek levees.
Dodge Park Golf Course: Tom Potvin, club professional at Dodge Park Golf Course in Council Bluffs, has received many calls asking whether his course remains open. “Absolutely — both courses, Dodge Park and Westwood both are open for play,” Potvin said. He said people get confused by the names. “Dodge Park in Omaha is closed, but the Dodge Park Golf Course in Council Bluffs is open and welcoming golfers.”
Carter Lake sandbags: Carter Lake is preparing for the worst. About 12,000 to 13,000 sandbags are ready to go in case of flooding, Carter Lake Mayor Russ Kramer said, with plans to fill more. Some residents in the city are experiencing groundwater leaks, with water entering basements as the rising Missouri River saturates land, according to both Kramer and Brad Richardson, Carter Lake restoration project coordinator.
Keeping the faith: Keeping the faith soon might be a little harder. Members of St. Mary Catholic Church and United Trinity Church in Hamburg, Iowa, have removed nearly everything from their churches. Services will remain unchanged until flooding is imminent. In the event of flooding, St. Mary will move to St. Mary Catholic Church in Shenandoah, with services at 8:30 a.m. Sundays. If flooding reaches United Trinity Church, services will be held 7 p.m. Saturdays at Free Methodist Church in Hamburg.
Dakota Dunes, S.D.: Members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church evacuated everything when they learned 2 feet to 4 feet of water could reach the church. The Rev. Kevin Vogts said the church will be closed for the rest of the summer, rather than hold services at 9 a.m. Sundays at Concordia Lutheran Church in Sioux City, Iowa, where his brother-in-law Ken Schmidt is the pastor.
Want to help? The City of Omaha is calling for volunteers to fill sandbags for reserved stockpiles. Three four-hour shifts are scheduled daily through Thursday. Companies with a large group of volunteers can call 402-444-5947. Small groups or individuals can register online. Details are available at http://www.keepomahabeautiful.org/.
A church in Council Bluffs has become the command center for flood volunteers. People can sign up at the First Christian Church, 20794 Iowa Highway 92. They also can call 712-325-4736.
Levee repair: The Mills County, Iowa, levee district staff will get help from the National Guard and Iowa inmates in patching rodent holes in area levees. They will spend the next five days repairing the approximately 26 miles of levees, Mills County officials said.
Concert parking: For Tuesday's Mumford & Sons concert, Stir Concert Cove at Harrah's Casino is encouraging people to park at the Mid-America Center in Lot B near Hooters and take complimentary shuttles to and from Harrah's between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Waiting: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is waiting on a 12-inch pump to help move water away from the water treatment plant at Onawa, Iowa. The corps has an 8-inch pump operating now. Harrison County, Iowa, has requested 3,000 more sandbags.
Evacuation preparation: The Douglas County Health Department reminded residents preparing for flooding to take care of water wells, fuel tanks and septic systems. With water wells, set aside clean water before taking a well out of service, disconnect the power supply, seal the well and cover the top to keep out contaminants, health officials said. Officials said to tie the fuel tank down, cover any vents if floodwater is expected to top it, and then empty the fuel and replace it with water to weigh the tank down. Septic tanks should also be filled with liquids to avoid floating, health officials said. Additionally, plug floor drains to avoid sewage backup in the basement.
Hitchcock detour: Organizers say visitors should plan on taking a detour to attend the Hitchcock Nature Center's 20th anniversary celebration Saturday. Travelers should take Old Lincoln Highway to Page Lane, which turns into Ski Hill Loop. Portions of I-29 and I-680 have been closed because of flood concerns. The nature center's celebration at 27792 Ski Hill Loop will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
THE RUMOR MILL
Rumor: The Village of Niobrara is flooded and closed to tourists.
Fact: Not so, said Village Clerk Robert Olson. Nebraska Highway 12 is closed to the east and west of Niobrara, and residents of Lazy River Acres community, between Niobrara and Verdel, were evacuated. But the Village of Niobrara is on higher ground and free from floodwaters, Olson said Monday. Tourists and visitors can reach Niobrara by taking Nebraska Highway 14. South Dakota residents will have a longer time reaching the town because of river-crossing road closures. Olson wants everyone to know the town is open for business. Highway 12 is open within Niobrara and for access to Niobrara State Park. Camping and other activities at the park are unaffected by flooding, although two trail segments have been closed, park officials said.
World-Herald staff writers Sam Womack, Larry Sparks, Kevin Cole, Kevin Coffey, Robynn Tysver and Ellen Jean Hirst contributed to this report, with the Associated Press and the World-Herald News Service.