Rising waters on the Missouri River are forcing more Iowans out of their homes in flood-battered Fremont County.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for about 600 people in western Fremont County amid fears that a federal levee on the Missouri could be overtopped. If the levee breaks, floodwaters of up to 10 feet could swamp three small communities and hundreds of acres of farmland.
The troublesome spot is north of Hamburg, Iowa, near the Nebraska City bridge, where floodwaters are within inches of the top of the levee, said Mike Crecelius, the county's emergency management director.
Hamburg is not affected by the recent order. The emergency levees constructed around that town after a levee broke earlier this month were still holding, said Crecelius.
The recent evacuation order covers the western third of Fremont County and includes the communities of McPaul, Bartlett and Percival. In all, about 600 people — mostly between the Missouri River and Interstate 29 — are affected.
Crecelius says most of the people have already left their homes. But, he says, some have been returning at night to sleep.
“The majority of those people voluntarily evacuated 2½ weeks ago. But now it's a mandatory evacuation. No one is going to be out there, period,” said Crecelius.
The floodwaters near the federal levees reached 27.8 feet Wednesday. The levees were built to withstand about 28 feet.
Workers are sandbagging and doing everything they can to protect the levee, but at some point it will become too dangerous for workers to be on top of the water-saturated barrier, said Crecelius.
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