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Cooper County prepares after levees break in Howard County

Dee Dilse and three other church volunteers laid out cots at a carpeted gymnasium, preparing for what the flood might bring in.

“We’re a community that help each other,” Dilse said. “It’s what God has laid on our hearts to do, and that’s what he would do. I’m a shepherd that goes out and ministers to people. So that’s why I’m here. I want to help.”

The church had prepared the room at Open Bible Praise Center on Highway 87 two weeks ago in anticipation of people displaced in Wooldridge due to flooding. No one came to the church then, but Dilse said they already had two people from Howard County come by to stay after a mandatory evacuation order came down there.

Two levee segments failed in southern Howard County on Friday afternoon after days of anticipation from first responders there. The county’s emergency management administration ordered those in cities like Franklin and New Franklin to leave as waters rose.

Dilse said the church, which would soon receive help from the American Red Cross, had room to hold 50 people. Food donations from community members fill the kitchen, and the bathrooms sport showers for people who need to stay.

Levees in Howard, and farther upstream in Chariton and Saline counties, have taken a beating the last week as major flooding continues along the Missouri River. On Friday, the federal levee system south of Brunswick became just the second levee system to overtop this year. Brunswick-Dalton Drainage District President Bob Littleton said his team had to make a deliberate cut in the levee system in hopes of lessening the damage to it. The cut, made at about 7 p.m. with a track hoe and skid loader, will flood to 25,000 acres of southern Chariton County, part of the area it protects.

“I thought I would never see another flood in my lifetime,” Littleton said.

Residents in Boonville marveled at the Missouri River on Friday night. People walked along the Highway 5 bridge that leads into Howard County. The river level in Boonville is 4 feet shy of the record set in 1993. Railroads are flooded, and the parking lot of the Isle of Capri casino has begun to take on water.

Jud Kneuven, emergency management director for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City district, said levee sponsors downstream from Howard and Chariton counties would need to stay alert for the coming days. The Corps plans to increase water releases from the Gavin’s Point Dam in Omaha on Saturday to 75,000 cubic feet per second into the Missouri River.

“There’s going to be a lot of other levee sponsors east of Brunswick downstream of Glasgow that are going to be battling this for the next few days,” Kneuven said.

Kneuven said that 34 levees in Missouri and Kansas have either overtopped with water or been overtopped then breached since May 22.

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