Flood-ravaged towns prepare to clean up the mess left behindCHAMBERLAIN/OACOMA — While the Missouri River slowly recedes, the residents here remain in limbo.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
CHAMBERLAIN/OACOMA — While the Missouri River slowly recedes, the residents here remain in limbo.
Eleven residents in Oacoma are keeping sandbag levees around their houses as a precautionary measure, even though the water never reached them.
Sylvester and Lily Van Oort’s home didn’t get wet, nor did Gary Mahrt’s home, which is right next door.
“It’s about a foot down,” Mahrt said of the water.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website states Lake Francis Case has dropped from 1,374 feet mean sea level June 13 to 1,372.6 feet at midnight Friday.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Chamberlain, the river level was 1,373.32 feet Friday morning.
Mahrt, who owns Gary’s Body Shop in Chamberlain, said from his office Thursday that there’s a lot of wood, trash and other debris to clean up. However, the time for such work isn’t set yet.
Oacoma Finance Director Val Moore said the city has not set a definite timeframe for the effort.
“I know it’s being talked about, but I think everyone feels like the water needs to go down a little bit further in order to get in there,” Moore said.
The ground that is exposed again is too soft to hold equipment.
But Moore said many residents are anxious to get this flood behind them.
The city has already submitted a $415,000 estimate to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damages. The amount will probably be combined with Lyman County’s request for assistance.
Water is again behind the fence at Gary McQuistion’s house in Chamberlain.
The sump pump is still running over a 4-foot high sandbag levee on a regular basis, trying to keep up with the groundwater.
“It’s going to be a few days before that slows down,” he said.
The water remains high enough at the entrance to American Creek Campground that the city has placed a temporary boat dock there. The water has left a clear mark on the entrance building where the water reached its peak.
Boaters don’t have a lack of access to the Missouri as Cedar Shore Resort also has two temporary boat ramps available. The water remains high at the resort as well, still keeping camping to a minimum. The tent sites are all under water, as are the new camper sites with updated 50 amp plug-ins.
Greg Powell, Chamberlain city engineer, said everything is going well. They are watching the water levels at Michelle’s Marina Restaurant, since a sandbag levee is still holding back water on three sides of the building.
There are no concrete plans for clean up yet in Chamberlain, either. Powell said the water needs to recede about 4 feet before that happens, which, if the Corps’ projections hold true, should take place in two weeks, he said.
As for funding regarding a clean-up, Powell said, “We started some preliminary work as of a week or 10 days ago, and figure there’s nearly $1 million worth of issues.”
The city will submit their funding request to FEMA once the flood is over. Residents will likely receive help from the city for clean up and removing sandbags. Powell said the city could recover as 1,500 tons of gravel from the large sandbags placed in the city.