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The Midwestern United States has been experiencing major floods since mid-March 2019, primarily along the Missouri River and its tributaries in Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas. The Mississippi River has also seen flooding, although starting later and ending earlier. The 2019 January-to-May period was the wettest on record for the U.S., with multiple severe weather outbreaks through May in the Midwest, High Plains, and South exacerbating the flooding and causing additional damage.[1][2][3] Throughout late May and early June, rain in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri caused every site on the Mississippi River to record a top-five crest.[4] At least three people in Iowa and Nebraska have died.[5]

2019 Midwestern U.S. floods
Historic floods have inundated Nebraska (40463013783).jpg
March 2018 and March 2019 side-by-side comparison of the Omaha–Council Bluffs metropolitan area showing effects of flooding of the Platte and Missouri Rivers.
DateMarch 2019 – present
LocationMidwestern United States
Deaths3
Property damage$2.9 billion (1.6B in Iowa; 1.3B in Nebraska)

Nearly 14 million people in the midwestern and southern states have been affected by the flooding, which the New York Times has called "The Great Flood of 2019".[6]

New record river levels were set in 42 different locations.[7]

Although $12 billion in aid was made "available to farmers who lost money due to the trade war" the previous year, Reuters reported that the USDA had "no program to cover the catastrophic and largely uninsured stored-crop losses from the widespread flooding."[8]

At least 1 million acres of U.S. farmland, in nine major grain producing states have flooded.[9]

As of September 17, 2019, a third round of flooding along the Missouri River was considered likely, due to heavy rains of up to "four times what is normal in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota and Nebraska."[10]

CausesEdit

 
Activist at Capitol South Metro with sign about Missouri River flooding

From January until early March, average temperatures in the Midwest remained in the low 20 to 30 average degree Fahrenheit range, with record snowfall in many areas, including the early March blizzard, up to three feet on the ground in some areas.[11] In Nebraska, over the course of three days (March 11 – 13),[12] temperatures rose to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, combined with 1.5 inches of rain. This quickly melted the snow, and the frozen ground was not able to absorb any meaningful amount, which led to unprecedented runoff into local streams and rivers.[13] Saturated soils, combined with elevated river flow from the previous fall, led to severe, widespread flooding across the Eastern U.S.[4] Many of the rivers were still frozen over with a thick layer of ice, which the powerful flow of water broke up and dislodged, creating massive chunks of ice that traveled downstream, acting like a plow.[14]

As of September 17, 2019, a third round of flooding along the Missouri River was considered likely, due to heavy rains of up to "four times what is normal in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota and Nebraska."[10]

DamageEdit

IllinoisEdit

Illinois was affected by the flooding, and the Illinois National Guard was activated to assist with the efforts along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.[15][16] The Illinois National Guard was released from flood fighting duties on July 29, 2019.[17]

The river crest in Grafton, Illinois was the fourth highest ever recorded. Cairo, Illinois experienced over 156 days with waters above flood stage.[6]

IowaEdit

Iowa was also affected by heavy rains and flooding. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed an emergency disaster proclamation March 14th.[18] One man was killed in Iowa.[19]

Flooding across Iowa was described as "catastrophic."[20] Parts of all nine state parks were closed.[18] Standing water from the spring floods was still present near Iowa roads in mid September.[21][22]

Governor Reynolds estimated the damage at $1.6 billion, a state record. Reynolds asked the president to declare a disaster in 67 counties.[23][24]

Western IowaEdit

Western Iowa suffered severe impacts, especially in the Missouri River Valley south of Council Bluffs, Iowa. There, at least 30 levee failures flooded towns and highways.[20]

In Hamburg, two-thirds of the town was underwater when the bomb cyclone hit.[25] The town lost sewage and gas services, according to city officials.[26] The town's levee, which was in need of repair, was breached. Residents had been unable to raise the $5 million for necessary repairs before the storm.[6]

Floodwaters damaged the water treatment plant in Glenwood.[27] On April 5, the city of Glenwood was still "trucking in more than 6,000-gallon tanks of water to provide the roughly 275,000 gallons its residents ... [were] using each day."[28]

On April 11th, hundreds of homes in Fremont County were still evacuated, and road closures remained in place.[29] Satellite images from the Weather Channel showed the town of Bartlett almost completely underwater.[30] Fremont County farmers lost an estimated "390,000 bushels of stored soybeans and about 1.2 million bushels of stored corn."[31]

Eastern IowaEdit

In Eastern Iowa, the Quad Cities spent 96 days with the Mississippi above flood stage levels. In Burlington, Iowa, the Mississippi rose above its banks for more than 104 days, surpassing its 1993 record.[32]

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) estimated over 2 billion dollars in flood damage.[32]

Road closuresEdit

Interstate 29 was closed in March, and again in May, from Council Bluffs to the Missouri state border and from there to St. Joseph, Missouri,[33][34][35] with portions of the interstate under 15 ft (4.6 m) of water.[citation needed]

On September 20, sections of Interstate-680 and Interstate 29 were once again closed due to Missouri River flooding. Some of the standing water by Iowa roads has been there since the spring floods.[21][22]

MissouriEdit

 
Picture taken in Rocheport, MO during the flood of 2019.

The entire community of Craig, Missouri, as well as parts of St. Joseph, Missouri had been evacuated,[36] portions of Interstate 29 had been under 15 feet (4.6 metres) of water. On March 21, a state of emergency was issued by Governor Mike Parson, who said:


NebraskaEdit

 
Aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, flooded

On March 14, 2019, the Spencer Dam on the Niobrara River collapsed, releasing an eleven foot wall of water.[38] The unrestrained flooding which followed destroyed 3 bridges downstream, including the Highway 281 bridge.[39][30]

In east central Nebraska, residents along the flooded Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn Rivers were forced to evacuate as some locals experienced all-time record flooding. The city of Norfolk, Nebraska evacuated a third of its residents.[40] The Platte and Elkhorn Rivers had overflowed their levees in the greater Omaha, Nebraska region and some communities were put under a mandatory evacuation order. The Platte River at numerous sites had reached flooding of "historical proportions" with some sites breaking all-time record flood levels by as much as 5 feet (1.5 m).[41] By March 15, access to the city of Fremont was blocked due to all roads being closed in and out of the city.[42] This remained the case days later with national guard military convoys being set up to get food and other supplies into the city.

Offutt Air Force Base had extensive flooding from the Platte River, inundating 30 buildings and 3,000 ft (910 m) of their only runway.[43] The base received damage that is said to "not be repaired for months", which has caused some events to be moved back.[44] Camp Ashland, one of the Nebraska National Guard’s main training sites, was also extensively damaged, with 51 of 62 buildings affected. Military representatives stated that the flooding is the worst that the camp has seen in its history, including a serious flood from 2015 that cost 3.7 million in repairs. It will be months before the base can support even minimal operations.[45]

Thirty of the one hundred homes in Lynch, Nebraska were destroyed by the flood.[6]

On March 18, Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts declared a state of emergency and stated that the floods caused "[t]he most extensive damage our state has ever experienced."[46]

Flood damage in Nebraska has been estimated at over $1.3 billion, including "$449 million in damage to roads, levees and other infrastructure." Twenty seven bridges were damaged.[47]

Agricultural damages included "$440 million in crop losses; and $400 million in cattle losses."[48][49] Livestock losses included seven hundred hogs that were drowned on a farm near Fremont.[50] Volunteers from Ohio’s Rural America Relief mounted a 10 truck convoy to North Bend, Nebraska with supplies for farm cleanup, "including four Gators to access the saturated fields."[51] After the 2011 Missouri River Flood, "it took years for some affected fields to be cleaned of debris and sand," according to a Nebraska DOT official."[49] Nebraska agronomists stress the importance of choosing appropriate cover crops for flooded fields which can not be replanted.[52][53][49]

The University of Nebraska announced Flood Recovery Serviceships with the Nebraska Disaster Recovery Service Corps, sending 24 students to affected communities.[54][55]

South DakotaEdit

In March 2019, the bomb cyclone in South Dakota left flooding in its wake.[56] Some residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were stranded for days, and about 8,000 people lost drinking water.[57] High water on the Moreau River prompted evacuations on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.[58] Pennington County approved a local disaster declaration as a result of a bridge collapse and other damage.[56]

In September 2019, "heavy rains dumped more than four times what is normal in parts of Montana, North and South Dakota and Nebraska."[59][60]

Between September 12-15, 2019, the Big Sioux River overflowed its banks. Three blocks of Dell Rapids, South Dakota were flooded, and up to a dozen homes damaged.[61] Bridges were washed out in Mitchell, which received 7 inches of rain in one night.[62][63] Interstate 90 was shut down between Mitchell and Sioux Falls.[64] [65] Baltic, South Dakota was only accessible via Highway 115.[63] Non-residents were urged to avoid Dell Rapids, Baltic, and Renner until the floods cleared.[66] In Madison, "about 30 people had to be rescued by boats and heavy equipment," after nine inches of rain fell in just two days.[62] Schools in Spencer were closed for two days, and streets were submerged.[59]

On September 17, residents of Dakota Dunes, a development sandwiched between the Big Sioux River and the Missouri River, were encouraged to evacuate as a precaution due to heavy rains, with peak waters expected the following Tuesday."[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Severe Won't Let Up: Major Outbreak and Flood Threat Looming for Monday by Bob Henson | Category 6". Weather Underground. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "Classic Spring Severe Weather Outbreak on Tap for Southern Plains by Bob Henson | Category 6". Weather Underground. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  3. ^ "Wettest 12 Months in U.S. History—Again by Bob Henson | Category 6". Weather Underground. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  4. ^ a b US Department of Commerce, NOAA. "Spring Flooding Summary 2019". www.weather.gov. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  5. ^ Smith, Mitch (March 20, 2019). "An Iowa Town Fought and Failed to Save a Levee. Then Came the Flood". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Almukhtar, Sarah; Migliozzi, Blacki; Schwartz, John; Williams, Josh (September 11, 2019). "The Great Flood of 2019: A Complete Picture of a Slow-Motion Disaster". New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  7. ^ Erdman, Jonathan (March 17, 2019). "Record Flooding in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois Follows Snowmelt, Bomb Cyclone". The Weather Channel, via Climate Signals. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  8. ^ Polansek, Tom (April 2, 2019). "U.S. disaster aid won't cover crops drowned by Midwest floods". Reuters, via Climate Signals. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  9. ^ Huffstutter, P.J.; Pamuk, Humeyra (April 1, 2019). "Exclusive: More than 1 million acres of U.S. cropland ravaged by floods". Reuters, via Climate Signals. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Associated Press (September 17, 2019). "Third round of flooding in 2019 likely along Missouri River". KOMU.com. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  11. ^ Hassan, Adeel (March 18, 2019). "Why Is There Flooding in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin?". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Omaha Month Weather - AccuWeather Forecast for NE 68102". AccuWeather.
  13. ^ Hassan, Adeel (March 18, 2019). "Why Is There Flooding in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin?". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  14. ^ Bureau, Paul Hammel World-Herald. "Propelled by ferocious floodwaters, huge ice chunks batter buildings in Niobrara". Omaha.com.
  15. ^ "Pritzker Activates Illinois National Guard Amid Flooding". NBC Chicago.
  16. ^ "National Guard arrives in Southern Illinois to help with flood preparation efforts". bnd.
  17. ^ Parker, Molly (August 1, 2019). "Illinois National Guard Released from Flood-Fighting Duties". www.govtech.com.
  18. ^ a b "Late-winter storm hits Midwest after paralyzing Colorado". Twin Cities. March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
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  21. ^ a b Campbell, Tara. "HEARTLAND FLOOD: A half a year deep in the water". www.wowt.com. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
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  23. ^ "Flood Damage costs 1.6 billion in Iowa". Associated Press. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  24. ^ "Flooding causes estimated $1.6B damage in Iowa". KCCI. March 22, 2019.
  25. ^ Young, Robin; McMahon, Serena (April 10, 2019). "'Half Of Our Town Is Still Underwater': One Iowa Mayor Worries About More Flooding As Snow Hits The Midwest". WBUR. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  26. ^ Everson, Sean (March 19, 2019). "Hamburg, Iowa, devastated by flooding, is without water, sewage and gas". KETV Omaha. ABC. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  27. ^ Peikes, Katie (March 19, 2019). "Floodwaters Affect Southwest Iowa Water Plants". Iowa Public Radio. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  28. ^ Funk, Josh (April 5, 2019). "Climate Signals | In southwest Iowa and elsewhere, drinking water problems linger long after flooding". Des Moines Register, via Climate Signals. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  29. ^ Peikes, Katie. "Fremont County Family Among Many Devastated By Western Iowa Flooding". www.iowapublicradio.org. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  30. ^ a b Dolce, Chris (March 19, 2019). "Before-and-After Images Show Ongoing Flood Disaster in Nebraska and Iowa". The Weather Channel. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
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  35. ^ Gaarder, Nancy (March 15, 2019). "Portions of Interstate 29 closed; Highway 2 closed at Nebraska City Missouri River bridge". Sandhills Express. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
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  38. ^ Salter, Peter (March 17, 2019). "11-foot wall of water: One dam breaks, three counties suffer". JournalStar.com. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  39. ^ "Spencer Dam collapsed". Siouxland Proud. March 14, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
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  42. ^ writer, Blake Ursch World-Herald staff. "Access to Fremont blocked due to road closures caused by record flooding". Omaha.com.
  43. ^ Liewer, Steve. "One-third of Offutt underwater; at least 30 buildings damaged in flood". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  44. ^ Ortega, Jennifer. "HEARTLAND FLOOD: Offutt begins long road to recovery from flood". www.wowt.com.
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  50. ^ Chapman, John (March 19, 2019). "Fremont farmers lose hundreds of animals in flood". WOWT. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  51. ^ Tevis, Cheryl (August 19, 2019). "Ohio Volunteers Help Flooded Farmers in Nebraska". Successful Farming. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
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  53. ^ Pope, Joanna (August 26, 2019). "Noah's Nebraska Flood Story". Farmers.gov. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  54. ^ "Flood Recovery Serviceships". University of Nebraska. 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  55. ^ "Nebraska students begin flood serviceship projects". University of Nebraska. June 27, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  56. ^ a b DenOuden, Candy (April 9, 2019). "Pennington County approves local disaster declaration". Rapid City Journal Media Group. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  57. ^ Smith, Mitch (March 24, 2019). "'A State of Emergency': Native Americans Stranded for Days by Flooding". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  58. ^ "Flooding forces evacuations on South Dakota reservation". KX NEWS. March 28, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
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  61. ^ Sneve, Joe (September 20, 2019). "Homes in Dell Rapids could be slated for demolition after floods". Argus Leader. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  62. ^ a b "Homes Evacuated, Roads Washed Out in South Dakota Flooding". The Weather Channel. September 14, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
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  65. ^ "UPDATE: Portions of I-90 to remain closed". KSFY. September 12, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  66. ^ Hergert, Kristin (March 25, 2019). "Please stay away if you're not from the area". KELO Newstalk 1320 107.9. Retrieved September 21, 2019.

External linksEdit