COUNCIL BLUFFS — As the floodwaters begin to recede, Pottawattamie County crews can begin to inspect the roads that have been underwater for well over two months.
For example, crews were able to inspect some portions of Interstate 680 east of Crescent on Tuesday morning.
"It does not look optimistic at this point," said Matt Wilber, the Pottawattamie County public information officer. "It appears to be nearly, if not completely, destroyed in several areas.
"That's obviously going to be a big project for the DOT to have to deal with; we anticipate similar damages in many different areas on county roads."
Because of the damage that lurks under the water, Wilber said, residents need to still honor barricades blocking roads as the water recedes.
"Obviously people want to get back into their houses, they are curious and think this would be a good time to go out," he said. "But there are parts with a few inches of water over road, but in reality road is washed away."
After a 5- to 6-inch rainfall early Monday, the Missouri River settled back below 34 feet Tuesday.
Wilber said the river spiked Monday at 34.6 feet after the deluge, but slowly receded and dropped back below 34 feet by Tuesday afternoon. The current river level reflects the reduction in releases from reservoirs upstream.
Since Aug. 18, the Army Corps of Engineers has been scaling back water releases at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota by 5,000 cubic feet per second each day from what had been 150,000 cubic feet per second. The corps is continuing the daily reductions until a 90,000 cfs release rate is achieved.
"We should now start to see the benefits of the reduction," Wilber said. "By Saturday we should be at 33 feet."
Wilber also reminded people to continue to report damage at the county's website, pottcounty.com.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is appealing a FEMA decision that denied individual assistance for Fremont, Harrison, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury Counties.
The state has 30 days to appeal the decision. However, since the floodwaters will recede slowly, Branstad is asking FEMA for an extension to Nov. 15 so it can include damage that surfaces beyond those 30 days.
Wilber said residents also should report the flooding from Monday's rainstorm as part of the state's appeal process.
"Hundreds of homes are affected now because of interior flooding. We want to make sure those get reported," he said. "It's at least our position that those damages should be recoverable with an individual assistance declaration."