Watching the Levees in Council Bluffs

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

The Hamburg levee isn't the only "wall" being closely monitored. Those living behind a levee anywhere up and down the river are keeping an eye out. Many people are trying to keep track of the levees themselves, which officials say is not safe. It’s actually the job of the National Guard in Iowa and Nebraska.

Tuesday at Playland Park in Council Bluffs several National Guard members were patrol that area of the levee. They’re doing it around the clock, in 12 hour shifts. Watching the water and the levees. But they’re also dealing with severe weather and rain.

“Walking and all of a sudden you look over and it just starts pouring on you,” said Kurtis Backman.

“We have 28 1/2 miles of levee that we are walking. And what we're looking for is sand boils; we're looking for breaches in the levee. Some seepage, there is a lot of water on the other side and it's been there for quite awhile so we're kind of watching to make sure it's not getting through,” Lt. Lisa Langel said.

But the rain keeps falling. Already in two days the guard has seen severe weather and heavy rainfall.

“There's a lot of water out there right now so there is a concern after the rain what's gonna happen. And our troops are very diligent about going back out and seeing if they see any changes,” Langel said.

They’re looking for changes in the soil, water levels and surrounding. Each guard member is trained by the Army Corps of Engineers to look for specific problems. If they see something suspicious, the Guard calls in the Corps. Langel says being here is also providing peace of mind for residents and city leaders.

While many of the homes along the levee are dealing with flooded basements the National Guard members say they've been getting a lot of ‘thank you's’ from residents who are happy someone else is watching the levees.

There's been concern about water on the back side of the levees. But the corps of engineers says that's nothing to be worried about. It's just ground water that's leaked through the soil, not a leak in the levee.


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