– Explosives Used to Breach Levee; Investigation Underway (WOWT, July 1, 2011):
An investigation is underway to make sure the explosives were in the hands of a licensed commercial operator.
According to a news release, a group of private citizens representing the Vanman #30 levee intentionally breached a half-mile stretch of levee from river mile marker 637 to 637.5 around 10 a.m. A good portion of it was mechanically excavated so that floodwater on the farm ground could go back to the river.
County Attorney Matt Wilber said he is disappointed no one told the county about the decision to go forward with the breach. “There are tens of thousands of citizens on both sides of the river who are affected by the flooding on the Missouri River and private activities such as this, which have the potential to affect those lives should not be undertaken without a full consideration of the consequences.”
Wilber went on to say that the Army Corps of Engineers indicated it had no authority to regulate this levee since it is not a federal levee. The blown levee is just a few miles south of Highway 30 near the De Soto National Park.
Wilber said because this was a private levee, there probably was no crime, but he is moving ahead with the investigation.
“These levees are saturated. We have the most water on them for the longest period of time we’ve ever had. This levee gets blown and we saw a several inch rise in the river shortly thereafter, so even a three or four inch pulse coming down the river when we’re looking at every half inch as being significant is a fairly big event.”
Wilber says the “pulse” of water has passed the Omaha/Council Bluffs area without any reported damage, but he added, the risk to everyone south of the Harrison and Pottawattamie County line was simply too great.
Channel 6 News did try and contact the chairman and clerk of the private levee system, but no one could comment.