KCUR News
5:09 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Holding Rivers at Bay

Farley, MO. – Fifty thousand sandbags are filled and stacked and more are being made in a Missouri area five miles east of Leavenworth. Local observers expect a quick rise in the Missouri River by early next week.

Levee district leaders want to add another 2 to 3 feet to the tops for a margin of safety. 18 years ago water was running over the protective ridge for a mile.

Steve Fulk of the Farley-Beverly drainage board says GPS tools help them calculate where weak spots will be--"Next week we'll begin that process, I believe, of isolating some spots. And technology's a little better than it used to be. As a result of that, hopefully we're a little smarter."

Railroad officials and troubleshooters from the Missouri Department of Transportation are keeping watch on the fortunes of the levees. They are also taking an active part in bolstering levees. If there is a levee failure, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and MoDOT stand to lose highways and a main rail line.

Steve Fulk and others have done one complete riding and walking survey of the river protection bulkwark. Fulk says they found and filled a variety of animal holes dug into the levees, which could weaken them. Badgers, he says, are particularly avid diggers in levee walls.

Fulk is concerned that more water is being released from upstream reservoirs than originally expected.

Any forecast of rain adds to the gloom. Rain is forecast by week end.