© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

More water could be released from South Dakota dam into Mo. River

Brigadier Gen. John McMahon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at a meeting in Jefferson City.
(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)
Brigadier Gen. John McMahon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at a meeting in Jefferson City.

Updated 8:55 with information about another levee breach:

The flooding has breached another levee in northwest Missouri, forcing the evacuation of the Holt County town of Craig.

Emergency officials in Holt County say the flooding Missouri River breached a levee along the Big Tarkio River around 2 p.m. Monday, and another nearby levee is being overtopped.

Residents of Craig have until noon to leave their homes. Emergency sandbagging operations are ongoing.

Our earlier story:

The amount of water being released from a South Dakota dam into the Missouri River could increase, if a weather system currently over the river’s upper basin dumps more rain.

That’s the warning given today by Brigadier General John McMahon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineersduring a visit to Jefferson City.

The Corps is already releasing 150,000 cubic feet of water per second from theGavin’s Point Damin South Dakota.   

“I can’t say how high we would have to go or when we would have to do that," McMahon said.  "We are basing those decisions on what rain is coming into the system, where it’s coming into the system, and how fast the snow is melting in the Rocky Mountains.”

McMahon suggests that rainfall directly over the state of Missouri could also complicate the situation.  He also denies rumors that there’s a shortage of sand for sandbags.

Jose Kruz is a Callaway County farmer who also serves as President of the levee district for the town of Wainwright.

“We’ve never had a situation like this before, because we’ve dealt with rain events more than a discharge like this," Kruz said.  "A rain event comes and you usually have the bump and it recedes…this is just a long time to be at this type of level and discharge.”

Kruz says he thinks the Army Corps of Engineers should have released more water from the Gavin’s Point Dam earlier in the year, due to the heavy snowpack this past winter.

McMahon says they were prepared for the snowmelt, but the amount of rainfall in the Missouri River basin this spring was "unprecedented."

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.