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Council Bluffs city employees volunteered to fill sandbags inside the Council Bluffs Public Works headquarters on Friday.

COUNCIL BLUFFS — With the Missouri River approaching levels at Council Bluffs that were recorded during the disastrous flooding of 2011, the 26-mile levee system that protected the city then is in even better condition today.

Work to improve the levee system has been in the planning or construction stages almost from the time the Missouri River dropped below flood stage in the fall of 2011.

The Council Bluffs levee system is divided into four segments, running from Interstate 80 south to Mosquito Creek.

After the 2011 flooding, the city began the process of having Council Bluffs levee system reaccredited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If FEMA does not approve the work done to repair and improve the levees and fails to accredit the levee system, virtually all of the city west of 16th Street would be classified as a flood plain.

“We’ve spent approximately $9 million over the last six years to address accreditation issues,” Public Works Director Greg Reeder said Friday afternoon.

He said that because the levee system in Council Bluffs is so large, FEMA officials agreed that the city can submit documentation regarding its accreditation efforts in segments.

Reeder said that the staff is currently completing the documentation to obtain accreditation for the segment of the levee system north of Interstate 80. He said the city would likely submit those documents to FEMA officials by the end of the month.

“We’ve worked very hard to make FEMA’s job easy,” Reeder said.

Reeder said the next segment to be accredited will be the section from Interstate 80 to Indian Creek. It’s currently estimated that the project will entail a year’s worth of work, including two major projects that are scheduled to be put out for bids in the coming weeks. Those two projects carry an estimated price tag of $10 million.

He said the city is still on track to have improvements to the entire 26-mile system completed in time for the entire system to be accredited by 2023.

“With the Missouri River forming the western border of Council Bluffs, we take our levees seriously,” Reeder said. “The levees need constant maintenance, and they get that.

“We have a whole team of people here who are confident our levees are sound,” he said. “There are a lot of people here working to keep the city safe, not just the employees in the Public Works Department.”