Several areas in the Midwest experienced record flooding this past week, with high water on Saturday causing more levee breaches on the Missouri River, prompting widespread evacuations and isolating neighborhoods and towns.
Record-high river levels were reported in at least 38 locations in the Midwest, particularly in Nebraska and Iowa, said Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist with weather.com. Heavy flooding was also reported in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota, and the National Weather Service said it would continue past the weekend.
At least one man was confirmed dead in Columbus, Neb. The Omaha World-Herald reported that the man had been trying to help someone stranded by floodwaters on Thursday when a bridge collapsed as he was crossing it. Officials in Fremont County, Iowa, confirmed another flood-related death on Saturday.
The devastation was captured in dramatic photographs circulated on social media by those who surveyed the damage. Senator Ben Sasse and Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska showed how floodwaters from the Niobrara River in the northern part of the state had ripped through a dam on Thursday, releasing a torrent of water and depositing huge chunks of ice onto fields and roadways.
They shared photos of water rushing over riverbanks and encircling homes and neighborhoods.
Floodwaters had surrounded the town of Fremont, Neb., about 40 miles northwest of Omaha, said Councilwoman Linda McClain. The town sits between the Platte River to the south and the Elkhorn River to the north. Both rivers had overflowed their banks, Ms. McClain said
“We’re like an island,” she said. “You cannot get in or out.”
Ms. McClain said she spent Saturday visiting shelters where people who had been displaced were congregating. About 75 people had been reluctant to leave their homes, but as the buildings took on water, they were rescued by airboats and taken to the shelters, she said. Many homes were flooded by as much as three or four feet of water.
Parts of the city had been under a mandatory evacuation.
“Right now, we’re in crisis mode,” she said.
It will only get worse this week as more snow melts and rivers crest across the plains states, and climate change will continue to play a major part in why this is happening. Now and in the future, what would have been historic 50- and 100-year flooding events are now happening every five or ten years instead.
We don't have the infrastructure in place to deal with it, and we won't build it as long as Republicans control our government that simply refuse to believe this is happening.
Thoughts and prayers should be enough to fix those levees, right?