By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer
Truckers traveling through the Midwest are still struggling to find alternative routes to avoid massive flooding along both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. And many of their options are dwindling as more hot spots are identified for possible road closures.
On Monday, June 13, the rising water from the Missouri River breached a levee in Atchison County, MO, along Interstate 29, which forced the evacuation of portions of that county, as well as residents in the small town of Hamburg, IA.
On Tuesday, June 14, Dena Gray-Fisher, Director, office of multimedia services for the Iowa Department of Transportation, said that while the breech was on the Missouri side, it’s the “topography” that’s causing the flooding problems just across the border in Hamburg.
“The water just fills up in a big bowl area and then the overflow forced the water to go north and flood the Hamburg area,” Fisher told Land Line.
“What we have closed is currently from Council Bluffs up to Missouri Valley on I-29 and what that does is effectively sever the north from the south because they can’t make the connection in there,” she said. “We are anticipating more road closures in the next 24 hours through the next couple of days. And we are monitoring some hot spots so we can give people as much advanced warning as we can so people can plan around those roads.”
“We are trying to put as much information as we can out there, but sometimes the situation is just unpredictable, like the levee breach. You just don’t know ahead of time,” she said.
Fisher said the closures will extend into Missouri to Missouri 136, which will “cut off the southern access point for people coming into the Omaha-Council Bluffs area.”
“There are a number of segments of the highway all along the Missouri River, kind of paralleling that area. We mentioned those hot spots so people can anticipate that flooding will be coming soon,” she said.
DeAnne Rickabaugh of the Missouri Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Services told Land Line on Tuesday they are preparing for the water “headed this way.” She added that they are updating their information as quickly as they can so drivers can find alternate routes.
She said to plan on I-29 near Rockport, MO, likely being closed by Friday because of impending floodwater. Rickabaugh added that they are updating their information as fast as possible.
“This information is going to be important for drivers and dispatchers because this isn’t going to be a week-long closure. It’s going to be closed until late July or August,” Rickabaugh said. “We want to make sure that people stay safe, and protect as much of our infrastructure as we can.”
According to the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s situation update on Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to provide “flood fighting measures” as needed along the Mississippi River and tributary system.
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