June 6, 2011 in Nation/World

Flooding threatens homes in Iowa

Timberly Ross Associated Press
 

Six hundred residents in southwest Iowa were ordered Sunday to evacuate their homes after the Missouri River breached a levee across the border in Missouri.

The evacuation covers nearly half of the town of Hamburg, said Stefanie Bond, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Residents, most of them on the south side of the city of 1,141, were being told to get out within 24 hours.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported a levee was breached Sunday morning south of Hamburg in Missouri’s Atchison County. The corps’ Col. Robert Ruch said crews had been working Saturday on another issue near the breach and all workers were evacuated.

Gen. Derek Hill, head of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, characterized the breach as a “boil” – a leak that “shoots out like a small geyser” – that was 1 inch to 1 ½ inches in diameter.

Iowa sent a Blackhawk helicopter Sunday to drop roughly 1,000-pound sandbags on the levee, Hill said, adding it was too dangerous to use ground crews. It was not known how long the work would take.

“It’s a technique that’s been used before by the corps,” he said. “There’s no guarantees, but we hope it will (work).”

Rhonda Wiley, emergency management director for Atchison County, Mo., said another nearby levee had a similar break Saturday, but Wiley said crews were able to repair it. She said levees along the Missouri River have been weakened by the river’s recent high water levels.

In South Dakota, the Army Corps of Engineers began construction of a backup levee Sunday to protect the town of Dakota Dunes.

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