When I wrote the posting on the Great Flood Of 2010 I admit I did so somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Last year's flood was, depending on your point of view, anywhere between amusing and annoying. Human lives were not in jeopardy, nor were there any serious property damage incidents.
It's a bit more serious here and now in 2011! :( We've had one worker fatality, voluntary and mandatory evacuations, flooded cellars, closed highways, re-routed trains, sewage issues, shelters established, and more business disruptions than can be counted. Several riverfront dining and entertainment venues such as Surfside Club and Anchor Inn are closed indefinitely. Hamburg Iowa, downstream about 50 miles and home of Stoner Drugs, is threatened.
Following the floods of 1947 and 1952, an extensive levee system was built along the banks of the Great Grey-Green Greasy Missouri River to protect the low-lying areas of Omaha and Council Bluffs from all but the most unexpected levels in the Missouri.
As long as the levees continue to hold, "they" tell us that no serious disruptions will occur and no mass evacuations will be required.
However, contingency plans are in place for the evacuation of the lower-lying areas of Council Bluffs, and emergency water removal from Eppley Airfield and Ameritrade Park.
The Council Bluffs Nonpareil (that OTHER daily paper in our area) has an excellent collection of photos on line in their Special Collections Archive which show, among other things, the 1947 and 1952 floods.
As of this writing, the stage of the Great Grey-Green Greasy Missouri River at Omaha is running 32.1 feet, having increased from approximately 15 feet this past March.
Depending on who is speaking, and the degrees of optimism, realism, and sensationalism they wish to present, they (the ubiquitous "they") predict anywhere from 4 feet to 8 feet in addition to the current stage, with the peak lasting anywhere from several weeks to several months.
These readings raise a question. 32 feet from WHAT?
I put out a few queries regarding this, and the best answer came from a Coast Guard Petty Officer who wrote: "River Stage, or Gage Height, is measured vertically from Gage Zero. Gage Zero is often, but not always, the lowest point of the river bottom, directly adjacent to the gage, at the time the gage was installed. Natural and un-natural actions will affect the river bed, but Gage Zero is seldom, if ever, adjusted."
As a precaution, many items of critical infrastructure have been isolated with sandbags, such as this utility installation.
Vulnerable portions of the levee system have been reinforced.
River water has begun to encroach upon low-lying areas on both the Iowa and Nebraska sides.
The flooding is most apparent in the surface parking lots of the Ameristar and Harrah's Casinos, located less than a mile from each other, on the Council Bluffs riverfront.
If we compare these photos (shot on the weekends of June 4-5 and 11-12) to these of 2010, it's obvious that this year's flood is more significant.
Harrah's north parking lot is almost completely under water!
As of June 6, a few parking spaces were still available, but as of June 11th, the entire north surface lot, as well as the north casino entrance, are closed due to high water.
Ameristar's north surface parking lot has been closed for a few weeks.
Walk across my swimming pool! :)
Traffic cones, barricades, various flotsam.
Lamp posts in the lake!
The outdoor events area is, literally, part of the river!
This is supposed to be dry land!
Culvert pipes, apparently from some construction project, are now in the middle of a lake!
The Robert Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, featured HERE offers a great vantage point to observe the flooding on both the Iowa and Nebraska sides.
What is normally riverfront parkland is entirely submerged.
I would >>HOPE<< that this debris just washed up. I like to think that Omaha area folks have more class than to throw stuff like this off the bridge!
On the Omaha side, the water still has several feet to go before it threatens Rick's Boatyard.
Note the midway from the Santa Lucia Festival on the waterfront. (Why did they ever move this out of Little Italy?)
Upstream, the Gallup Riverfront Campus is truly riverfront!
The workers represented in the Monument To Labor sculpture are wading waist-deep.
They say that the College World Series will go on no matter what, and they assure us that they will keep Eppley open no matter what, and that they will do all they can to prevent a breach which will flood the northwest quarter of Council Bluffs.
However, we're sure of one thing, and that is that it will be several weeks, if not months, before much of our beloved Great Grey-Green Greasy Missouri riverfront (all set about with fever trees?) will be usable again.