Over-the-road drivers are again jockeying with local traffic on the region’s secondary highways, now that Interstate 29 and major Missouri River crossings have closed because of flooding.
It’s not clear how quickly it will reopen.
“A lot will depend on how long the roadway is underwater, and the amount of debris, and if there is any damage,” said Scott Suhr of the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We won’t know until the water recedes. We will update as we know more.”
Iowa roads officials have warned that additional road closures are likely.
As of Wednesday evening, I-29 was closed from:
» Crescent/I-680 interchange to Loveland, a 10-mile closure.
» Glenwood/U.S. 34 exit to the I-229 interchange in Missouri, about 100 miles.
There is also about a 1-mile detour for southbound I-29 traffic in northern Council Bluffs.
I-680 remained open as of Wednesday evening.
Among other roads, U.S. Highway 34 was closed from Bellevue in Nebraska to I-29 in Iowa. It’s one of two Missouri River crossings that are closed. The other is Highway 2.
For Nebraska drivers, there's a sliver of good news: Nebraska Highway 15, south of Schuyler, is slated to reopen Saturday to traffic in both north and south lanes.
The bridge there was heavily damaged during flooding in March. It will reopen to one-lane traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals.
M.E. Collins Contracting will continue work on that stretch until all flood damage has been fixed — expect occasional lane closures and flagging operations as construction continues. Drivers should be cautious and expect delays.
Missouri River to remain high indefinitely
Flooding on the Missouri River will continue for many more weeks, the National Weather Service forecast Wednesday evening.
The weather service made that updated forecast after taking into account Wednesday’s announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it would increase releases from Gavins Point Dam to 75,000 cubic feet per second Saturday. That’s more than double the average for this time of year. The corps says releases will remain at least that high into the foreseeable future.
Van DeWald, meteorologist with the weather service, said the river is expected to crest at 31 feet at Omaha Saturday night into Monday, a little more than a foot higher than it had reached Wednesday evening. At Blair, it’s expected to rise about 2 feet higher. Downstream of Omaha, where levees are broken and there’s room for the river to spread out, the increases will be lower.
Much depends upon future rainfall.
“The problem is, June is the second wettest month of the year, typically,” DeWald said. “It’s not like we’re going into a dry season.”
Hanson’s Lakes levees are holding
Residents were back at the sandbags at Hanson’s Lakes Wednesday — making sure they did everything they could to fend off the rising Platte River.
And their work appeared to be worth it. The levee continued to hold Wednesday, said Josh Tedder of Tedder Construction. Tedder has property in Hanson’s Lakes and his company was assisting with shoring up the levees.
“The river seems to have crested,” Tedder said late Wednesday afternoon. “So far, we’re looking pretty good. We’re just waiting for it to recede.”
Sandbagging was suspended around 4 p.m., he said.
The river isn’t nearly as high as it was in March, when historic flooding struck Nebraska.
Jason Lambrecht, assistant director of the Nebraska Water Science Center for the U.S. Geological Survey, said the Platte crested at about 9 feet at Louisville on Wednesday afternoon. On March 16, it crested at 13.7 feet, about 1.5 times higher.
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Smithsonian experts will help salvage treasures
Nebraska residents can learn how to restore and preserve their household treasures from Smithsonian Institution preservation experts who are holding a workshop Saturday in Omaha.
The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and the Durham Museum are teaming up for the 10 a.m. event at the museum, 801 S. 10th St.
The workshop will be livestreamed through Zoom videoconference software for those unable to attend.
Among the heirlooms that might be salvageable are photos, artwork, quilts, important documents and other keepsakes.
More information is available on the museum’s Facebook page.
Fremont County, Iowa, FEMA assistance site closes Saturday
The State/Federal Disaster Recovery Center in Sidney will close permanently at 2 p.m. Saturday. The center is located at the Fremont County Emergency Management Office, 2014 290th Ave., and will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The center is a one-stop information site with face-to-face help. Fremont County residents and businesses will still be able to get help at a the Glenwood site in Mills County. It’s located at the Glenwood Resource Center, 111 Lacey St.
People also can get help online at disasterassistance.gov, by using the FEMA app or by calling 800-621-3362.
Latest storms lead to more Iowa disaster declarations
The disaster declarations continue, right along with the storms.
On Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued disaster declarations for 10 counties on the eastern side of the state. The decision was in response to heavy rain, hail, straight-line winds, tornadoes, flooding and flash flooding that began there on May 17. Some of those counties already had disaster declarations from earlier storms.