A groundbreaking & a celebration as Hamburg, Iowa levee is rebuilt; and raised

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Hamburg inundated in the Missouri River flood of 2019/File photo

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

A groundbreaking ceremony in southwestern Iowa is also a
celebration as a levee overtopped two years ago is rebuilt; this time a bit
higher.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha office
will join with city leaders from Hamburg to break ground tomorrow morning on a
rebuild that will raise the levee protecting Hamburg, Iowa another eight feet.

Project Manager Andrew Winslow says the Missouri River flood
of 2019 hit Hamburg hard.

“It was a horrible situation, the way they got flooded in the
spring of 2019, right? A lot of businesses, private homes, city facilities were
damaged,” Winslow tells St. Joseph Post.

Hamburg NAPA store during flood of 2019/File photo
Hamburg NAPA store during flood of 2019/File photo

The Corps is only allowed to rebuild a levee to its pre-flood
condition. It had awarded a contract in the fall of 2019 to rebuild the levee
that the Missouri River overtopped. City officials weren’t satisfied,
especially Mayor Cathy Crain.

Winslow recalls speaking with Crain during the pre-bid site
walk. The contract called for the levee to be rebuilt to its original height of
911 above mean sea level. Crain told Winslow she hadn’t given up on raising the
levee to 919.

“The city was tenacious,” Winslow says.

Winslow says Hamburg city officials secured enough federal and
state money to pay for raising the levee the extra eight feet, perhaps the
first time the Corps has been allowed to raise a flood-damaged levee.

“And that was all based on the diligent efforts of the city,”
according to Winslow.

Winslow says Crain pleaded the city’s case to federal
officials, arguing simply rebuilding the levee wasn’t enough.

“I’m losing businesses out of Hamburg and I’m having trouble
attracting businesses, because this is like the third time in 10 years we’ve
gotten flooded,” Winslow says Crain argued to federal officials.

Winslow says Hamburg secured enough federal and state funding
to raise the height of the levee eight feet. He says the new, improved levee
will cost $7 million and take six months to complete.

Hamburg in 2019/File photo
Hamburg in 2019/File photo