HEARTLAND FLOOD: Third levee breach puts farmers and IDOT officials on high alert

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) A third breach in less than twenty-four hours has officials and residents on high alert in Pottawattamie County.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has crews out monitoring the interstates, ready for closures if it comes to that.

“It's going to change the timing of when and where the water gets to where it's ultimately going to be,” said IDOT engineer, Austin Yates. He noted the breaches are speeding up the waters approach to I-29, as well as I-680.

Yesterday one of our maintenance crew pounded a survey stake in, marked off at two-inch increments from zero all the way up to 30 inches,” said Yates. “That's what we're using as our gauge as the water's coming in. Earlier this morning (Thursday) it was coming in about an inch and an hour and now it's a bit faster than that."

The measuring stick is north of the Honey Creek exit along I-29. It’s the lowest point along the interstate, north of Council Bluffs.

Crews are on standby, ready to go into action if the water reaches the top of the stick.

“You'll see we have lots of little portable signs folded up, you know it's just a little velcro strap somebody has to do when we have to close,” explained Yates.

Beyond concerns over the interstate, are worries about the surrounding farmland. Bob Hansen has farmed most of his life. It’s difficult for him to watch floodwaters spill over onto nearby fields for a third time this year.

“We hope that it gets dry so we can plant a crop this spring. that's the worry for farmers right now. to get rid of the water by spring,” said Hansen.

Hansen noted, of the approximately 15,000 farming acres in the area, only 1000 acres were planted this year. And now a third round of flooding threatens to slow progress down even more.

He said the hope is that this time around the water doesn’t stick around as long as it has in the previous two floodings. It’s something IDOT officials are also hoping for.