Exit 56

Interstate 29 near Exit 56 in Council Bluffs. Portions of I-29 north and south of the Bluffs and a long stretch of I-29 from Pacific Junction to Rock Port, Missouri, were closed because of flooding.

Flooding has pushed the Missouri River to record levels, overtopping levees and inundating portions of Interstate 29 — and officials expect more damage yet to come.

The rising river forced the closure of one of Omaha’s two sewage treatment plants, which has resulted in about 65 million gallons of raw sewage dumping into the river daily. Additionally, Nebraska Public Power District is preparing to shut down Cooper Nuclear Station. Portions of I-29 north and south of Council Bluffs have closed, and a long stretch of I-29 was closed from Pacific Junction to Rock Port, Missouri.

Col. John Hudson, the Omaha district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the corps is “extremely concerned” about the levees south of where the Platte joins the Missouri River.

“We’re expecting numerous levees between here and Kansas City to overtop over the next two to three days,” Hudson said Friday. “We’re still probably a good week-plus before we’re seeing relief on the Missouri River.”

The next two to three days could be particularly critical for southern areas like Rulo and Brownville, and Hudson urged people to evacuate.

“If they were flooded out in 2011, they need to be taking precautions now and anticipate that,” Hudson said.

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From Plattsmouth south along the Nebraska border, the Missouri River is reaching levels never before recorded. That’s because the Platte River, swollen with flooding from across Nebraska, enters the Missouri River at Plattsmouth.

The flooded Niobrara River was the main cause of a sharp increase in discharges late last week from Gavins Point Dam, said Kevin Grode, who manages the Missouri River dams for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Niobrara dumps into the reservoir behind Gavins Point, and Niobrara floodwaters accounted for most of a 30 times normal jump in water pouring into the reservoir late last week, according to the corps.

To provide an outlet for that water, the corps increased releases from Gavins Point Dam to 100,000 cubic feet a second, a five-fold jump. As inflows from the Niobrara drop, discharges from Gavins Point will drop, he said. By Friday evening, releases from Gavins Point were down to 83,000 cubic feet per second.

None of the additional water coming out of Gavins Point is from the other flood control reservoirs higher upstream, Grode said.

The corps has closed the gates on the Fort Randall Dam, immediately upstream of Gavins Point.