City Takes Over Flood Surveillance

By: Jake Wasikowski
By: Jake Wasikowski

“We were pretty fortunate to have them and be able to work with them for as long as we did,” said Battalion Chief Shane Hunter.

For six weeks, the Nebraska National Guard has been watching over the Missouri River levees around the metro. Now the city will assume the 24/7 surveillance duties.

"We certainly have come to, both on a personal level and a professional level, appreciate the work that the Guard did,” said Marty Grate with Omaha Public Works. “But we think that we can provide safety for the community and get those services done in a different way."

One group will be going up and down the levees on foot and on carts to look for any problems. A security firm will help keep observers away from unsafe areas and fast moving water.

The National Guard has been monitoring hundreds of different issues in the past few months along the Omaha side of the Missouri River, from things like boils to rodent holes. About 700 areas are being marked with flags so the city knows exactly what needs to be fixed and maintained.

“A little problem can turn into a big one when you’ve got this much water on the levee,” said Gordon Anderson with Omaha Public Works.

With water flow decreasing from Gavins Point Dam, the city appreciates every inch the river falls but warns the community not to assume we’re out of the water just yet.

“We need to keep our guard up. We’re headed in a good direction, but these levees are very saturated and the weather could change on us,” Grate said. “So we don’t want to sound an ‘all clear.’”

93 pumps are still online for any seepage still coming through. The city says it’ll be very busy for the next several months to clean up debris when the water goes down. At that point, they can find out how much damage was done to the levees.

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