Keeping the Trains Rolling

Crews are building a levee on either side of the tracks from the river to about a mile east of town.

That's based on flooding projections Burlington Northern received from the Army Corps of Engineers last Friday.

Forty to fifty trains daily use this route through Mills County, Iowa.

It is a major east-west route for Burlington Northern Railroad and a major national link for commerce.

John Lincoln owns property along this line near the Missouri River.

He's been in contact with the railroad.

"They're going to put a levee on both sides of the railroad tracks, clear through Pacific Junction," he said.

The railroad is building the three and a half mile levee to protect this vital link.

Lincoln and other landowners abutting the tracks have been asked to help save the line.

"They notified me to get permission to get some ground get some dirt to build it with and then they'll put it back afterwards," he said. "It'll be like a tunnel for the train to go through. They want it five foot higher than the top of the rail and it takes a lot of dirt to do that."

The work is already under way.

Truck after truck hauls in loads of dirt dumping their loads parallel to the tracks.

Crews are racing against the clock and increasing nearby water levels.

"There's a lot of fear out here right now on what to do and where to go and everybody's heading for high ground," Lincoln said.

Homes in the area are already surrounded by water.

An access road has succumbed to flood waters.

Nathan and Mary Lidgett live here.

They've dealt with high waters three of the past four years.

"I thought we'd have a better chance this year but obviously we don't," Nathan Lidgett said.

Many of their neighbors are already moving out.

"We're not moving yet, but we've got a place to go a place to put our furniture so we've got plans," Mary Lidgett said.

The Lidgetts are worried they may be boxed in by flood waters and the new levees the railroad is building.

"If they do the other road up about that one then we have to go up (Interstate) 29. Mary said. "If they cut that off we're done."

The Lidgetts don't plan to stick around to find out.

A spokesman for Burlington Northern said all roads crossing tracks along the three and a half mile stretch will remain open as long as possible.

If the water does get that high, all of the homes in the nearby vicinity will already be under water and everyone should have been long gone, so keeping the roads open at that point will be a non-issue.

Burlington Northern hopes to be done with the levee work by June 12th.

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