Mills County Emergency Management Monitoring Missouri River Flooding

The Missouri River crested at over 40 feet when it overtopped this Mills County levee in March 2019. (Courtesy Photo - Mills County Emergency Management).

The Mills County Emergency Management Office expects Missouri River water levels to crest  near the Plattsmouth Bridge at just under 35 feet Thursday afternoon into Friday morning.

If that projection holds true, Mills County 911 / Emergency Management Director Travis Hitchcock is optimistic the levee system in Mills County will prevent a significant flooding event.

“Currently, we’re monitoring the flood projections. As of Monday night, the projections are right in the 34.5 feet - 34.8 feet,” Hitchcock said Tuesday morning. “If the  projections remain confident, and we are at that 34.5, even that 34.8, utilizing historical data and our observations

from flood impacts from 2011 and 2019, that 34.5 will be within the levee system. That levee will maintain the 34.5 by our historicical observations.”

Mills County Emergency Management employees and levee sponsors in Mills County have been monitoring the Missouri for several days as the high water levels upstream have caused flooding in both urban and rural areas. Hitchcock said the water level is the highest it’s been since 2019, when historic flooding caused widespread damage and destruction in western Mills County.

“This would be the first time since 2019, even that summer, that we’ve had water this high, so it will be a good opportunity for us to really evaluate what 34.8 feet looks like,” he said. “I do think after a major flood goes through, there are parts of the river bottom, the bank, maybe even portions that are outside the bank and things are even deeper and the water may move just a little bit differently. It could come up in areas it didn’t before.”

Hitchcock said water levels in the Platte River, which feeds into the Missouri north of Plattsmouth, and any ag land flooding upstream will impact water levels in Mills County.

“The Platte River contributed so much during 2019,” Hitchcock said. “That was moving more water than what the Missouri was. I think that’s what did us in. In 2011, it was a high run-off year and that levee system maintained the river height for months because the Platte River really wasn’t contributing at all. As of right now, it does appear to be the same. I do think the Platte River gauge (Louisville) is far down.”

Hitchcock said if the Platte River maintains its current water level, it shouldn’t impact the Missouri.He added that he’s also keeping an eye on developments along the Missouri River north of Council Bluffs.

“What I don’t think the gauges are accounting for is the potential for water that’s coming downstream that’s overtopping areas or getting out into ag land and kind of filling up those portions,” he said. “In the event that happens and it’s significant enough, that will reduce what we observe down here.

“I do beleive that the gauges and their projections are kind of a perfect-world scenario if the systems maintain. If the water continues to flow, this is what we can see, however, if it overtops, a levee blows, a dam goes, all I-29 north of Council Bluffs and that ag land fills, that’s going to reduce what we observe south.”

Mills County residents are encouraged to monitor flooding developments and travel impact through emergency management, National Weather Service and news media outlets.In March 2019, the river crested at over 40 feet and overtopped the levee. Hitchcock said the levee was actually overtopped when the water reached 39.5 feet.


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