HAMBURG, Iowa — The rising Missouri River ruptured two levees in northwest Missouri yesterday, sending torrents of flood waters over rural farmland toward a small town in Iowa and a resort community in Missouri.
Water rushing from a 300-foot-wide hole in a levee near Hamburg, in far southwest Iowa, is continuing to widen the breach, placing more people in jeopardy.
Flood waters are expected to reach a secondary levee protecting the partly evacuated town of about 1,100 people by today. If that levee fails, parts of Hamburg could be under as much as 10 feet of standing water, officials said.
About 45 miles south, the river punched a 225-foot-wide hole through a levee about 5 miles northwest of Big Lake in Holt County, Mo. The roughly 30 residents who stayed in the resort town after the river started rising were told to leave yesterday.
Iowa officials said they would close more than 20 miles of Interstate 29 in southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri by Thursday.
The Army Corps of Engineers has steadily increased the amount of water it is releasing from dams along the Missouri River to account for excess water from heavy spring rains in the Upper Plains and to clear out space for above-average snowmelt coming down from the Rockies. Releases from the Missouri’s five lower dams should reach 150,000 cubic feet of water per second today, more than twice the previous record.
It wasn’t clear if the flood waters approaching Hamburg would prove too much for the secondary levee built last week to protect the town. Atchison County officials posted video of the breach showing the water spreading out over a large area of farmland.