Temporary levee keeping Hamburg, Iowa, dry

June 18, 2011 at 1:21 AM
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HAMBURG, Iowa, June 18 (UPI) -- The threat of the bloated Missouri River inundating tiny Hamburg, Iowa, remained Friday with an earthen levee the only thing standing in its way.

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers crews spent the day bolstering weak spots along the 3-mile-long wall and it was holding, The Des Moines Register reported.

"It was an all-night fight," Col. Robert Ruch, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, said. "We have some challenges, including several seeps."

Civic leaders pressed their case with corps officials and U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, to leave the temporary levee in place even after the waters subside, despite an agreement to remove it within 30 days.

Grassley said Ruch told him there will be no rush to remove it, the Register said.

Ruch said the Big Muddy, which breached a levee in Missouri 5 miles away had crept within 3 feet of the top of the Hamburg levee, which corp workers have built up with 5 feet of clay and dirt.

Without the addition, the floodwaters would have been in Hamburg, he said. It now appears the levee will be high enough to keep the town of 1,100 people dry.

River water from a breach in Missouri 5 miles away had climbed to within 3 feet of the top of the Hamburg levee, meaning it would have topped the original 5 feet of added clay and dirt, Ruch said.

Local businessman Don Athen urged Ruch, Grassley and Latham to see to it that the levee is made permanent.

"Without that levee in Hamburg, we'd be 6 feet under water by now," he said.

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