Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Battle rages to save Omaha's Eppley Airfield from Missouri floodwaters as opening of College World Series looms; sinkholes and a pickup truck-size sand boil appear

Update with maps and video about National Guard presence here.

On Monday morning the bloated Missouri River ripped a 300-foot-long hole in a levee near Hamburg Iowa and a 225-foot-long gap in a levee about five miles west of Big Lake in Holt County, Missouri.

In light of those two breaches, officials are concerned about the integrity of levees protecting Omaha's Eppley Airfield, which contributes a billion dollars yearly to the local economy, and the 30,000 residents of low-lying west Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the river from Omaha.

Ironically, a sandbagging operation to protect Eppley is being staged in Carter Lake, Iowa, the only Iowa town on the Nebraska side of the Missouri, due to an 1877 flood that redirected the course of the river 2 km (1.25 mi) to the southeast.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that 70 90-foot wells are being installed between Eppley and the river to pump water over the levee and back into the river.

Water is starting to pool around the just-built site for the College World Series, TD Ameritrade Park. The former site of the College World Series, Rosenblatt Stadium, is on high ground which won't be affected by river flooding.

Perhaps the NCAA should have listened to Kevin Costner before it threatened to pull the CWS out of Omaha unless much-beloved Rosenblatt Stadium and its welcoming neighborhood were replaced by a new, sterile downtown venue.

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