I-29 Closed, Governor Visits Hamburg Residents

By: Ann McIntire, The Associated Press Email
By: Ann McIntire, The Associated Press Email

The Iowa Department of Transportation says the northern point of the closure is exit 10 at Iowa Highway 2 (the Nebraska City exit). The closure runs south to U.S. Highway 136 in Rock Port, Missouri, a distance of about 30 miles.

Because of the closure, drivers will be diverted to Highway 136 and Highway 75, bringing more traffic to smaller towns. Deb Reiman in Auburn, Nebraska says it is some cause for concern.

“We already have a lot of traffic coming through on the highways so I think people are pretty conscious about letting their kids out. I think it's fine, everyone just needs to work together to get where they're going."

She admits the extra traffic could be a good thing. “It may draw more people to Auburn because they drive through and see what a nice town we have."

Down the road in Brownville, Nebraska, business owner Harry Andersen hopes to see more tourists. "I have noticed, that as strange as it may seem, I think people like to see disasters and they're coming to look at how high the water is. Strange."

Renee Danielson hopes the draw will bring new customers into her store as well. "I think people want to come and see the river because it's a curiosity and then those that don't know it's closed this will be like a turnaround and they're going to see stores that they've never seen before."

Truck driver Carl Warner from Ohio was looking for an alternate route after I-29's closure. "Seeing the barricades and everything, it's different. Kind of shows you what they're thinking is heading this way and I don't want to be here when it gets here."

A section of I-29 north of Council Bluffs was closed last week due to flooding as well as I-680 from North 30th Street in Omaha east to the I-29 interchange near Crescent, Iowa, including the Mormon Bridge.

Construction crews are putting the final touches on a makeshift levee guarding Hamburg from the advance of Missouri River floodwaters.

Robert Michaels, who has overseen the construction of the
temporary levee guarding Hamburg for the Army Corps of Engineers, says floodwater advanced to within 500 yards of the floodwall on Wednesday and is expected to reach it by Thursday.

Experts say a drop in river levels caused by Monday breaches along the primary levee south of town would be temporary. The river had already begun rising again Wednesday near Brownville, just downstream from the breaches.

Hamburg Fire Chief Dan Sturm says crews hope to cover the levee with plastic before water reaches it.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spoke before a packed house in Hamburg.

300 plus people packed the Hamburg junior and senior high school auditorium looking for any combination of hope and luck but walked away with continued uncertainty.

Jennifer Hemmers asked Branstad if FEMA trailers could be used as temporary shelters closer to work if the levee fails.

Branstad said he'd look into it.

No matter what the state does right now, staying one step ahead of mother nature is a guessing game at best.

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