PERU, Neb. — Near Peru on Wednesday, about a dozen Nebraska National Guard troops patrolled a seven-mile-long levee that protects farm fields and eight houses on the northern edge of town.
But local officials here, like those up and down Nebraska's side of the Missouri River, have been working on plans to take over levee patrols when the Guard leaves Sunday, said Allan Adams, vice president of the Peru Dike and Drainage District.
The Guard is making plans to pull back from levee monitoring along the river starting Sunday. The areas affected include Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Dakota and Nemaha Counties, said Dan Stolinski, an assistant fire chief in Omaha who helps lead local flood response efforts.
He said public works employees and hired consultants will take over levee watching in Omaha once the troops leave. Stolinski says he plans to announce more details at a flood briefing Thursday morning.
"We're developing a plan," Stolinski said.
In South Sioux City and Dakota County, officials also are developing a plan for monitoring levees after the Guard leaves, officials announced Wednesday.
The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency could not immediately confirm that all of the counties listed had agreed they no longer needed the Guard in that role.
The Guard continues to monitor levees in western Iowa.
Nebraska Guard members have been staying in dorm rooms at Peru State College, and college President Dan Hanson said he has been informed they will be leaving by the end of July.
Floodwaters had come within 6 inches of the top of the levee in recent weeks, but have receded by about 4˝ feet, Adams said.
Now the district is working to line the levee with several hundred tons of rock.
"It's not over," he said. "You still have the issue of saturation. That's our biggest concern from here on out."
Starting next week, he and a group of volunteers will monitor the levee at least once a day until the river returns to normal.
Most of the homeowners in the danger zone voluntarily relocated, Adams added. He expects several to return soon.
As of Wednesday, none had.
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