Residents take matters into own hands, push for levee repairs

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) As officials are trying to figure out how to fund levee repairs, people in one Iowa county are taking matters into their own hands.

Rick West and his grandson Eli, have lived in Pottawattamie County their entire lives. One of their family properties has been cut off by floodwaters since March.

On Friday morning West took 6 News out on the Missouri and surrounding rivers, to get a look at the damaged levees; it’s something he’s been doing with elected representatives. He said he wants them to understand the need to find funding to fix the breaches.

"They couldn't believe it,” said West. “They can see it on a diagram.” But West said until a person sees it up close, it’s hard to comprehend the threat it still poses to homes and roads nearby.

"We're just one rain away and that interstate will be closed again,” said West. “Regardless of what the river's doing."

The levees in this part of the county are through property taxes, which means the Corps of Engineers is not responsible for them. Without a big enough tax base to cover the cost of fixes, alternative funds have to be found.

West is hoping his trips out on the rivers will help convince officials to come up with the money.

"It ain't going to fix itself,” said West. “Regardless of who pays for it, it's got to get fixed."

This week Pottawattamie County Emergency Management gathered with local, state, and federal representatives to start working out a plan to fund the levee repairs. The residents were also at the meeting.