Receding River Unveils Severe Clean Up Issues

As fish feed along the shoreline, there are signs of receding flood waters in Council Bluffs.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is still a long way off and rather dim.

Fire Chief Alan Byars says the fight is not over.

"The worst situation that we could do is let the community down over the next several weeks and not be prepared and not be ready and not continue the efforts that we've been doing." he said. "Even though the river's going slowly down, what you are going to see here and with the National Guard and with Public Works is it's the same operation until we get water off the levees."

"Issues are still popping up," he said.

One of those issues occurred on a levee just south of Interstate 80.

Inspectors found water flowing through the levee in a brush-filled area.

They found several larger sand boils.

Sandbags provided a quick fix.

"That kind of curtailed the flow but it didn't stop it so they had to resort to a more engineered approach and they decided to do the sand blanket," Council Bluffs Public Information Officer Don Gross said.

That discovery may have prevented a severe problem.

"You just don't play around with these smaller issues you just address them while you still can," Gross said.

While sandbagging operations in Council Bluffs are on hold, mounds of sand and thousands of sandbags stand at the ready.

On the city's west side, other signs we'll see for months to come.

A green slimy mess colors a once neat neighborhood. Abandonment of the area is highlighted by overgrown grass. Water is still being pumped from flooded basements.

If the levees hold, the clean up is the next big issue.

Chief Byars said FEMA recently turned down South Dakota's request for individual homeowner assistance for flood damage.

That worries affected residents and places plans for a recovery in doubt.

"There's some young couples and you're talking about substantial cost to them to build their house back up to where it was and some of those I'm not sure without assistance how its going to happen," Byars said.

Tuesday night's "Night Out" in Council Bluffs and Omaha offers another opportunity to help flood victims.

Through Friday, we're encouraged to take our donated cleaning supplies to any fire house, police precinct or the Salvation Army at 36th & Cuming.

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