Decorah working to address levee concerns - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Decorah working to address levee concerns

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DECORAH (KWWL)-- Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the US Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with studying the strength of levees across the country.  Last year, the Corps began studying levees in Decorah.  During the floods of 2008, the upper Iowa River in Decorah swelled and some of the levees suffered damage.  And those issues, along with the age of the levees, have led the Corps to find parts of them unacceptable.

The Iowa River was raging and flood waters covered parts of Decorah in 2008.  All that water left behind some damage, including erosion to the city's levees.  And because the city's flood barriers are old, the US Army Corps of Engineers say the levees need repair.

"They do have 60 years of age on them, and the items that have been addressed to us are being tackled right now," said Jerry Freund, Decorah City Administrator.

There's no concern that the levees might fail in the event of another major flood.  But fixing culverts through the embankment, removing excess vegetation, installing closeable valves for the sanitary sewer system, and replacing rocks to minimize erosion will help ensure that the levees function to the best of their ability to protect the community.

"That's exactly what we're doing, and we've already started getting some price estimates and quotes from contractors and people that are in the business of chipping up trees and tearing them out and pulling out the stumps.  We'll be having a firm come out to televise and video tape our culverts, as well as address some of the other issues we've been talking about," Freund said.

The total cost of all those fixes remains unknown.  But it's something that the city will have to find funding for.  The Corps is requiring all of the levee repairs to be made within the next two years.

The city says the first phase of the levee repairs will be getting underway soon, in conjunction with an effort to get the levees certified.  It's critical for all of the repairs to be made to ensure that FEMA funding will be available to help with recovery efforts in the event of another flood.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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