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Crews close 1,000 foot levee breach in Atchison County, Missouri

Northwest Missouri and surrounding areas first saw devastating flooding beginning in March and progress is being made in levee repair projects.

Posted: Aug 28, 2019 8:44 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2019 8:31 AM

(ATCHISON COUNTY, Mo.) Northwest Missouri and surrounding areas first saw devastating flooding beginning in March and progress is being made in levee repair projects.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been assigning contracts and sending crews to repair levees that were damaged along the Missouri River.

Atchison County, Missouri has one of the largest breaches along the river. Army Corps of Engineers officials prioritizing this breach and sending crews to the area in late June.

"Of the breeches we've seen and closed so far this is definitely one of the larger one's at about 1,000 feet," said Dustin Davis, an area engineer with the Army Corps said.

The $22 million project is focusing on two levee breaches just miles apart. The 1,000 foot breach sits just outside of Watson.

"It's about 650,000 cubic yards of sand that we are going to place along this alignment and then eventually fill in the entire breach," Davis said.

Six months later, water still covering fields along the river's edge. And weeks after work began, the gap was closed in the levee in Atchison County.

"You can see the water going down with days after we closed the breach," Davis said.

Davis says that high water velocities and a 70-foot deep scour near the levee has made the project near Watson more difficult. He also says that while flood waters swept away the levee months ago, it also left behind some of the pieces needed to put it back together.

"All of this sand we are placing now is alluvial sand from the flood event itself," he said. "Sand that blew out into the farmer's fields, sand that has been deposited. So we are actually using the sand that's on farmland to close the breach."

In addition to using nearby resources, contractors and officials with the Army Corps are enlisting the help of locals to get the levees fixed.

"Most of these operators are local farmers and landowners in the area. So they have a lot of invested interest in getting out here and closing this breach," Davis said.

As water slowly trickles back into the river, the Army Corps of Engineers still has more work to do. Davis said the work ahead for crews could equal or exceed the amount required in 2011.

"There's two inlet breaches we are closing here," Davis said. "In the whole system, there's approximately 50 plus breaches that we are closing from Omaha down to Rock Port."

While work is slow, it is steady and for areas from Rock Port to Craig and places downstream, progress.

"We are getting out as quickly as we can to close these breaches and restore the level of protection," Davis said.

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It was a snowy and cold day across the area with 2-6 inches of snow found across northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Temperatures will fall into the teens and single digits overnight. Be very careful on the roads Sunday morning, slushy and wet roads will refreeze with the cold temperatures overnight. Sunshine returns on Sunday with temperatures staying right around average in the mid 30s. Dry conditions look to continue into next week. Temperatures will warm through Tuesday with highs back in the 40s before a cold front moves through mid week dropping temperatures back into the teens and 20s.
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