Corps: Platte, Missouri River flood repairs to cost over $1B

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Flood-damaged levees and other infrastructure along the Platte and Missouri Rivers will cost far in excess of $1 billion to repair, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A section of road is underwater near Waterloo, Nebraska, after the majority of the local levees were overtopped by floodwaters., Photo Date: 3/18/2019 / Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Ryan Hignight / (MGN)

The first 61 of 108 projects deemed eligible for federal funding will cost $1 billion, Corps spokesman Matt Rabe told the Omaha World-Herald. The Corps has received more than 150 project applications, and more are expected to roll in.

Nearly 850 river miles (1,370 kilometers) were damaged when two rounds of massive floods devastated huge swaths of the Midwest this spring. Resulting problems include complete breaches in levees, deep scour holes, erosion to the armoring of the river banks and toppling of in-stream dikes that direct the water's flow. The Corps counted more than 100 levee breaches between Omaha and St. Louis, with only a handful repaired so far.

Officials expect the repairs to take several years.

The Corps and special disaster aid will fund the repairs, Rabe said. He noted it's unclear if there will be enough money to cover all repair costs. Taxpayers can expect to bear some of the hefty price tag.

The Corps lowered releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River by 5,000 cubic feet per second to 70,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday. Now, there will be less water flowing downstream of the dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border.

Contingent on the weather, the lower releases should allow the river to drop about 6 inches (15 centimeters) at most sites south of Omaha, the National Weather Service predicted. The Platte River empties into the Missouri south of Omaha.