2019 Midwestern U.S. floods
|Date||March 2019 – present|
|Location||Midwestern United States|
|Property damage||$2.9 billion (1.6B in Iowa; 1.3B in Nebraska)|
The Midwestern United States has been experiencing major floods since mid-March 2019, primarily along the Missouri River and its tributaries in Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas. The Mississippi River has also seen flooding, but to a lesser extent. From January until early March, average temperatures in the Midwest remained in the low 20 to 30 average degree Fahrenheit range, with record snowfall in many areas, including the early March blizzard, up to three feet on the ground in some areas. In Nebraska, over the course of three days (March 11 - March 13), temperatures rose to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, combined with 1.5 inches of rain. This quickly melted the snow, and the frozen ground was not able to absorb any meaningful amount, which led to unprecedented runoff into local streams and rivers. Many of the rivers were still frozen over with a thick layer of ice, which the powerful flow of water broke up and dislodged, creating massive chunks of ice that traveled downstream, acting as a "roiling plow". At least three people in Iowa and Nebraska have died.
Iowa was also affected by heavy rains and flooding, closing parts of all nine state parks. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed an emergency disaster proclamation March 14th. One man was killed in Iowa. Flooding across Iowa was described as "catastrophic" especially in the Missouri River Valley south of Council Bluffs, Iowa. There, at east 30 levee failures flooded towns and highways. Interstate 29 was closed from Council Bluffs to the Missouri state border and from there to St. Joseph, Missouri, with portions of the interstate under 15 ft (4.6 m) of water.
The entire community of Craig, Missouri, as well as parts of St. Joseph, Missouri had been evacuated, portions of Interstate 29 had been under 15 feet (4.6 metres) of water. On Thursday, a state of emergency was issued by Governor Mike Parson, who said ""The rising floodwaters are affecting more Missouri communities and farms, closing more roads and threatening levees, water treatment plants and other critical infrastructure," Parson said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with our local partners to assess needs and provide resources to help as Missourians continue this flood fight and as we work to assist one another."
On the Niobrara River, the Spencer Dam collapsed and the unregulated flooding destroyed 3 bridges downstream including the Highway 281 bridge. In east central Nebraska, residents along the flooded Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn Rivers were forced to evacuate as some locals experienced all-time record flooding. The city of Norfolk, Nebraska evacuated a third of its residents. The Platte and Elkhorn Rivers had overflowed their levees in the greater Omaha, Nebraska region and some communities were put under a mandatory evacuation order. The Platte River at numerous sites had reached flooding of "historical proportions" with some sites breaking all-time record flood levels by as much as 5 feet (1.5 m). By March 15, access to the city of Fremont was blocked due to all roads being closed in and out of the city. This remained the case days later with national guard military convoys being set up to get food and other supplies into the city.
Offutt Air Force Base had extensive flooding from the Platte River, inundating 30 buildings and 3,000 ft (910 m) of their only runway. The base received damage that is said to "not be repaired for months", which has caused some events to be moved back. Camp Ashland, one of the Nebraska National Guard’s main training sites, was also extensively damaged, with 51 of 62 buildings affected. Military representatives stated that the flooding is the worst that the camp has seen in its history, including a serious flood from 2015 that cost 3.7 million in repairs. It will be months before the base can support even minimal operations.
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- Bureau, Paul Hammel World-Herald. "Propelled by ferocious floodwaters, huge ice chunks batter buildings in Niobrara". Omaha.com.
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- Norvell, Kim (March 20, 2019). "Number of levee breaches up to 30 from 12, and Iowa's flood season is just getting started". Des Moines register. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
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- "Access to Fremont Blocked Due to Road Closures Caused by Record Flooding".
- Liewer, Steve. "One-third of Offutt underwater; at least 30 buildings damaged in flood". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Ortega, Jennifer. "HEARTLAND FLOOD: Offutt begins long road to recovery from flood". www.wowt.com.
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- Ristau, Reece (March 19, 2019). "Floodwaters receding in Nebraska, but long and costly recovery lies ahead". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved March 19, 2019 – via Omaha World-Herald.