More work for Omaha, as Missouri continues to rise

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June 20th, 2011

Omaha, NE – The National Guard will help Omaha fight back the Missouri River, as the water continues to rise.

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The Missouri River is currently at 34.49 ft. If there’s a breach in Omaha’s 42 ft. levee, a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter is on hand at Eppley Airfield with four hundred 1500 lb sandbags, assistant fire chief Dan Stolinski told reporters Monday.

Sandbags are protecting many homes and businesses in Nebraska, as they battle waters from the rising Missouri River. (Photo by Josh Korth)

“The Nebraska National guard is providing personnel to assist with 24/7 levee inspection,” Stolinski said. “They were trained on Friday and worked with public works this weekend… They will conduct three 8-hour shifts, and all 13 miles of the levee will be inspected every four hours.”

Stolinski also said the overflowing sewer water in North Downtown will be rerouted and more large-capacity pumps will be installed by the end of the week. The Environmental Services Manager for the Omaha Public Works Department, Marty Grate, said the sewer system can no longer be drained by gravity alone.

“The way our system works normally,” he said, “is that when we get a rain storm, and it’s more than we can handle at our treatment plant, it overflows by gravity into the river. With the river levels so high now we don’t have that as an option at many of our locations.”

“When it rains, or when we get waste water that’s more than the pipes can handle, we’ve got to mechanically lift that out of the city and put it in the river to keep that flowing,” Grate said.

Grate added the city was able to keep up with this weekend’s rainfall, but he said, Omaha was lucky to have missed much of the heavy rain that overwhelmed surrounding areas, including Brownville, where the river rose over a foot in just one day.

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