Levee breaks occurred again Sunday as historic flooding continued in Nebraska, Iowa and nearby states. Conditions won’t be safe until water is off the levees, and that may not happen for days.
On Sunday, the levee overtopped at Hamburg, Iowa, and water flowed into the south end of town, flooding homes, a cafe and other local businesses.
A hastily made earthen berm protected the water plant, as the floodwater continued to slowly rise.
It was the worst flooding in many years, said Lana Brandt, 70.
She said Hamburg is getting help from its neighbors. People from as far away as Omaha have offered to help with sandbags, as have students from nearby towns like Sidney and Tabor.
“We’re an older community, so many of us can’t do sandbags anymore,” she said. “We count on people helping us.”
Brandt, who has lived in Hamburg all her life, noted that the town withstood the 2011 Missouri River flood for months by piling extra dirt on top of the almost 2-mile-long levee on the west side of town. Locals wanted to keep the higher levee, but federal officials said they would have to make about $5.5 million in improvements. That was too costly, so the levee was lowered to its pre-flood height.
“The government made us tear the top off of the levee and bring it down to stump size,” Brandt said. “And so the water’s rushing over the levee now. Whereas, if we had been able to keep that levee, we might have been able to keep our community dry, and we wouldn’t lose businesses and property and crops. This is huge.”