New flood wall: The Omaha Public Power District has installed a new barrier around its Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station and is now pumping out floodwaters from the Missouri River. OPPD installed the new 8-foot-tall, water-filled barrier around the plant to replace a similar one that failed two weeks ago after a worker inadvertently punctured it with a loader. The utility planned to pump out the water behind the new barrier on Sunday to create a dry area around the plant, so it will be easier for workers to get around. Both OPPD and federal regulators have said Fort Calhoun is safe even without this barrier. Officials say all the key areas of the plant have stayed dry inside. The plant will remain shut down until after floodwaters subside in the fall.
Airport benefits: The Sioux City airport is benefiting from the flooding along the Missouri River because it has become harder for people to drive to Omaha's airport. The flooding has closed sections of Interstate 29 in Iowa and a number of other roads, so getting to Omaha's larger Eppley Airfield can be challenging. Sioux Gateway Airport manager Kurt Miller said ticket sales are higher than average right now. Miller said the longer the flooding lasts, the more likely it is that people who live near Sioux City will consider flying out of the smaller airport in northwest Iowa.
Cooperation: South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard says he believes all Missouri River states can find a way to work together on river issues. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad last week urged governors in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to discuss forming a new group of downstream states. A letter he wrote indicates he believes the Army Corps of Engineers favors upstream states in its management of the river. Upstream states want more river water for recreation, and downstream states want it for barge traffic. Daugaard says he wasn’t aware of Branstad’s letter, but he all states have much in common regarding the river. He says they’ve worked together on the response to this year’s flooding, and he believes that cooperative attitude can continue.
Releases: Jody Farhat of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday that water releases on four Missouri River dams will begin to decrease this week. Farhat said the release from the Fort Peck Dam will drop from 45,000 to 40,000 cubic feet per second on Friday and the Garrison Dam will go from 140,000 cfs to 135,000 cfs on Tuesday, then to 130,000 cfs on Thursday. The Oahe and Big Bend dams will each slow from 150,000 cfs to 145,000 cfs on Tuesday.
Fort Randall Dam and Gavins Point Dam will remain at 156,000 cfs and 160,000 cfs, respectively.
Farhat said the amount of water being held at the reservoirs behind each dam has slowly started to decrease, but the corps “has very little adjustment room” to work with in the event of heavy rains. The corps' weather forecasters are predicting a strong possibility of thunderstorms along the Missouri River basin this week.
Bugging out: Floodwaters around North Platte are receding, but all that water is only increasing another problem: mosquitoes. In response, the city plans to fog city streets for the second time this year in an effort to get rid of the pests. The fogging is to begin Monday and run through Friday. For a map of the city and corresponding spray days, visit the City of North Platte website, www.ci.north-platte.ne.us/. Residents are asked to take precautions by turning off window fans and closing windows and doors when fogging is taking place.
Looking for information? Check out Omaha.com/flood for the latest news as well as a story archive and photo galleries. The site also features a list of contact information for emergency management agencies — federal, state, county and city — and other organizations involved in flood-fighting efforts.
— World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole and the Associated Press