Missouri River cresting higher than 1993 flood levels

The Missouri River hit historic highs around northwest Missouri on Wednesday as officials prepared to unleash even more water into the area.

National Weather Service measurements taken near Big Lake and Phelps City, both about two hours northwest of Kansas City, showed crests beating every mark on record — even 1993’s peaks.

“Missouri River water will remain dangerously high for the foreseeable future,” said Col. Anthony Hoffman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City office.

Residents in Holt County in northwest Missouri are already facing advancing floodwaters, which have defeated at least one levee there and are nearing the tops of others.

Meanwhile, Army Corps officials slowly opened up the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to release even more water downstream into the Missouri River to relieve overwhelmed reservoirs in northern states.

Gavins Point is expected to release 160,000 cubic feet of water per second starting today.

The amount of water now shooting through Gavins Point has led the Army Corps to look for contractors to help protect the dam’s shoreline immediately downstream, said David Becker, a project manager for the dam. He said there was no threat to the dam’s flood-fighting functions.

In Craig, Mo., one city official estimated Wednesday that the town was 80 percent evacuated and said workers were erecting new levees to fight the advancing floodwaters.

City disaster coordinator Terry Eaton had said Tuesday that the city felt neglected by state and federal officials except for Sen. Roy Blunt’s office, but that changed Wednesday. The staffs of Rep. Sam Graves, Sen. Claire McCaskill and the U.S. Department of Agriculture called to check in. He said that he was thankful but that the worst would still be ahead.

“When this is over, that’s when we’re really going to need help, and I hope they’re still there,” Eaton said.

Eaton said he was also “overwhelmed” by an offer of assistance from the Iowa Tribe in nearby White Cloud, Kan.

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