An 18.5-mile levee system that protects southeast Bellevue and Offutt Air Force Base needs $24 million in improvements or will be considered obsolete.
John Winkler, general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has mandated that the levees be raised 1 to 2 feet at specific points.
The new national standards stem from the 2005 flooding of New Orleans.
Winkler said the mandate seems unreasonable, because the existing levees withstood the prolonged Missouri River flood of 2011. Local officials continue to lobby the federal government for relief.
“We went to FEMA and said ‘Listen, this system worked in 2011 with a 100-year event and lasted for four months,’ ” he said. “But they don’t care.”
FEMA will not share in the cost.
A bill pending in the Nebraska Legislature would provide $10 million for the levee improvements. The remaining $14 million would be split among the City of Bellevue, Sarpy County, the NRD and possibly the U.S. Department of Defense, Winkler said.