Kerrey bridge: The Council Bluffs entry to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge will be closed at noon Saturday until further notice. City officials said they decided to close access on the Iowa side because of safety concerns stemming from Missouri River flooding. The bridge is expected to remain open on the Omaha side through the holiday weekend, said Aida Amoura, a spokeswoman for Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle. The entire bridge was closed for more than four hours Thursday as workers cleared tree debris from underneath the bridge. Workers also cut limbs from trees that had been undermined by floodwaters.
No boating: The boating ban on the Missouri River remains in effect for the Fourth of July weekend, Nebraska emergency managers said. The river's depth and speed continue to make the Mighty Mo dangerous to all vessels. Officials also urged caution if you plan to stay cool on an area river connected to the Missouri. These waterways also have high waters and higher currents.
Record setter: Runoff into the Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa, in June was the highest single runoff month since 1898, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. June runoff was 13.8 million acre-feet of water. The previous record was 13.2 million acre-feet during the historic April 1952 flood. May runoff above Sioux City was 10.5 million acre-feet, which now ranks as the third-highest single month. The May and June combined runoff totaled 24.3 million acre-feet, just short of the normal total annual runoff for the entire basin, which is 24.8 million acre-feet.
Recycling site closed: Omaha's northeast recycling drop-off site at 7200 N. 16th St. was closed Friday because of rising floodwaters. Until the water recedes, recyclers should drop off materials at the city's other sites: the parking lot at 75th and Corby Streets, River City Recycling at 6404 S. 60th St. and Firstar Fiber at 10330 I St.
Highway 30 reopens: Bill Pook, emergency manager for Washington County, said the two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 30 on the Iowa side of the river reopened for the July Fourth holiday weekend. He said oversize trailers will not be allowed on the highway. The stretch is east of Blair, Neb., and west of Missouri Valley, Iowa. It had been closed for barricading work on the south side of the highway. Pook said Highway 30 will close again Tuesday for two days while crews shore up the north side.
Emergency advice: About 2,700 northeast Omaha residents will be getting advice in the mail about what to do in case of a catastrophic levee breach, said Dan Stolinski, assistant Omaha fire chief. The City of Omaha expects all affected homes and businesses to receive the notices by Tuesday. The evacuation area generally is east of Florence Boulevard and north of Cass Street. If there were a levee breach, anyone who needs shelter should report to Omaha North High, 36th Street and Ames Avenue. The school is not a shelter, but transportation would be provided to shelters from there.
Parks still open: Despite detours due to flooding, western Iowa state parks are busy as usual for the July Fourth weekend, said Mick Klemesrud, a Department of Natural Resources spokesman. “It's important to a lot of people to camp on the Fourth of July. Camping and family reunions are a tradition, and a lot of them will make extra effort to see that tradition happen,” he said. Campsites with electrical hookups are now full and most tent sites have already been taken, too, Klemesrud said. But the public is welcome for picnics, boating and other daytime activities. Two parks previously closed in anticipation of flooding have been reopened for day use and boating under 5 mph. They are Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs and Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa. (The campgrounds remain closed at Lake Manawa and Lewis and Clark.) Pottawattamie County's Wilson Island State Recreation Area remains closed. For more information, visit www.iowadnr.gov and “click destinations,” then “state parks.”
Tax help: The Nebraska Department of Revenue offered tax help to businesses and individuals affected by flooding. Those without access to a computer or tax records are encouraged to contact the department at 800-742-7474 or 402-471-5729. Also visit the Department of Revenue website at www.revenue.ne.gov/flood_victims.html for more information.
Levee support: The Army Corps of Engineers hired a contractor to reinforce a Bellevue levee. Coastal Environmental Inc. was awarded a $463,000 contract to build a seepage berm on a levee about one-half mile from Highway 370. The work should be completed Saturday. The seepage berm will border the levee and allow water to seep through and into the berm.
Office open: The Council Bluffs Social Security office will reopen Tuesday. The office near the Mid-America Center closed Thursday due to possible flooding, but the doors will reopen from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next week.
Shelter downgraded: Due to decreased need, the Peru State College shelter will downgrade from 24-hour to standby status, said the Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Cheerleaders volunteer: A lot of sweat, a lot of water and also a lot of spirit have gone into sandbagging efforts at the Mid-America Center. Cheerleaders from Lewis Central High School have been volunteering all week in the sandbag brigade. Demi Cloyd, 15, a sophomore, was joined by her grandmother, Linda Spencer. “It's a lot of hard work, very tiring, but for a good cause,” Demi said. Sandbagging at the Mid-America Center will continue from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers must register by calling the volunteer hotline at 712-325-5736.
Tee off: The Dodge Riverside Golf Course will reopen Saturday, said Council Bluffs Parks and Recreation Director Larry Foster. The golf course was closed last week while crews reinforced levees with seepage blankets.
Locals only: Vehicle access to the Playland Park neighborhood in Council Bluffs will be restricted to local residents only through the Fourth of July weekend. Barricades and signs will be posted at the south entrance at 41st Street and at the north entrance at Avenue G.
Rumor: Flood insurance won't pay claims from the Missouri River flood because it's man-made, since the Corps of Engineers purposely released water from the dams along the river.
Fact: The Federal Emergency Management Agency says: “Policies under the National Flood Insurance Program cover damages to insured buildings and contents whether caused by man-made events such as an intentional opening of spillways or breaching of levees, for example, or whether simply caused by a natural flooding event.”
— World-Herald staff writers Sam Womack, Jonathon Braden, David Hendee and Jane Palmer, with the World-Herald News Service