Mar 21, 2019

Flood Damage to Midwestern Levees, Roads, Farms May Run Well into the Billions

Pacific Junction, IA
USA
by
Bob Henson
,
Weather Underground | Category 6
This aerial photo from Tuesday, March 19, 2019, shows flooding along the Missouri River in Pacific Junction, Iowa. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says rivers breached at least a dozen levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Hundreds of homes are damaged, and tens of thousands of acres are inundated with water. Photo: DroneBase via AP
This aerial photo from Tuesday, March 19, 2019, shows flooding along the Missouri River in Pacific Junction, Iowa. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says rivers breached at least a dozen levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Hundreds of homes are damaged, and tens of thousands of acres are inundated with water. Photo: DroneBase via AP

Costs are mounting quickly from the late-winter/early-spring flood disaster that’s assaulted the Midwest this month. Estimates from several disparate sources now suggest that the total cost of the flooding to date—including agricultural losses, road repair, and levee reconstruction—could end up in the multiple-billions-of-dollars range. At least three deaths have been linked to the flooding.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told reporters on Wednesday that preliminary damage estimates in his state alone are more than $1.3 billion, including $439 million in infrastructure losses, $85 million in private homes and business losses, $400 million in livestock and $440 million in crop losses. The total does not apparently include damage to Offutt Air Force Base, where floodwaters covered about one third of the area and inundated dozens of buildings.

To make matters worse, the Midwest is highly vulnerable to more flooding this spring, thanks to saturated soil and a large snowpack in the Upper Midwest.

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Here are some of the biggest-ticket items the Midwest is facing:

—Damaged and destroyed levees. Many levees, both small and large, have been breached or overtopped by the historic flood crests working through the region’s waterways. At least 42 locations in six states have set all-time high crests, according to weather.com.

Much of the water unleashed in and around northeast Nebraska has flowed southeast through the Missouri River watershed. At least 12 levees were breached along the Missouri in Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri, the Des Moines Register reported on Tuesday.

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—Farming and ranching impacts. As reported by the Associated Press, Nebraska is facing an estimated $400 million in crop losses and $500 million in livestock losses, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson. Much of the loss is due to crops that will be delayed or will go unplanted because of soaked fields and damaged farming facilities.