Senator Blunt tours river levee project in Rockport

“We’re just trying to get caught up on where we are in replacing these levees that were so devastated by the flood a couple years ago,” said Senator Roy Blunt.

Posted: Sep 3, 2020 7:48 AM
Updated: Sep 3, 2020 8:21 AM

(ROCKPORT, Mo.) Wednesday morning, Senator Roy Blunt stopped by Rockport to tour the river levee project. 

“We’re just trying to get caught up on where we are in replacing these levees that were so devastated by the flood a couple years ago,” said Senator Roy Blunt. 

The 2019 flood devastated the area. The high floodwaters ruined farmland and ran families out of their homes. 

“Basically all of the systems south of Council Bluffs have been impacted by the ‘19 event,” said Jeff Bohlken, Chief of System Restoration Repairs. 

The restoration team said the river levee project hits home for the community. When the team began repairing, Bohlken said, "we had about 70% of the people driving the equipment out there were the local landowners and farmers. Everyone got behind it and we all saw the priority of getting out there.”

SEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took Senator Blunt on a tour of one of the seven breaches of the Missouri River levee system impacted by last year's flooding. Bohlken said the 536 system has been approved for a setback. 

“So what a setback does is it opens up the river by setting back the levee. That will help with your conveyance. Additionally, it made it shorter, so we didn’t have to repair as much of a section and that has allowed us to put in a better overall system for that piece,” said Bohlken. 

The restoration team said they're 75% done with all the work.

Bohlken said the river levee project was originally estimated to cost $1 billion, but after the team found ways to save money, it has cut down the price. 

“We’re estimating around $600-700 million, so a much more significant program. I think after we got done with ‘11 (flood), it was around $250 million so almost three times the size there,” said Bohlken. 

Senator Blunt said while the setbacks are moving the river in the right direction, he said the river needs to be managed differently. 

“The Missouri River management plan that went into effect 2004 just was a disaster. We’ve had problems like this more often than not with years where we’ve had the same rainfall that you’ve had 30 years ago, but we haven’t managed the river in the right way. So, we’re trying to convince the Core and the Core I believe is convinced,” said Senator Blunt. 

Governor Parson was scheduled to tour the river levee project along with Senator Blunt, but Wednesday morning's fog prevented him travelling up north to Rockport. 

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