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    Posted June 4, 2011 by
    South Sioux City, Nebraska
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Severe weather

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    South Sioux City resident blames Corps, South Dakota for flood


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Usedcam is the managing editor of the Dakota County Star newspaper and has been covering the flood day by day. On June 4, Usedcam went to the community of Cottonwood Landing, which is located on the north edge of South Sioux City near Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. There he met resident Dan Black, who appears in Usedcam's first photo. Usedcam said that Black has accepted the fact that the flood is going to take his home and has decided to evacuate.
    - ccostello3, CNN iReport producer

    SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEB. – Dan Black is very grateful for the volunteers who have tried to save his home at Cottonwood Landing from the rising floodwaters of the Missouri River.

    Just don’t mention the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the State of South Dakota to the struggling South Sioux City resident, whose townhouse sits along the river at the foot of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge connecting South Sioux City, Nebraska, with Sioux City, Iowa.

    Black is very upset with how the Corps of Engineers has managed the water in the Missouri River Reservoir system.

    “I think the Corps of Engineers and the State of South Dakota have caused this. They have been fighting over these water rights for years. They wanted to retain the water for recreation uses instead of holding it as a reservoir. This is what you get. They have high water up there and low water down here and they have been fighting over it,” Black said.

    Now that high water has finally fallen as snow and rain in the West, Black said the reservoirs are already full and just can’t hold any more. A super water flow is coming down the Missouri River system and something has to give.

    “They wanted big lakes, big recreation and big fishing. Those dams are built to store water when we need storage. When they’re full, there is no storage left,” Black said.

    The residents of Cottonwood Landing have been sandbagging the northern edge of their townhouses for the past week. They have worked to near exhaustion and so have the 100 plus volunteers each day who have assisted them.

    It remains unknown if all of their hard work will indeed save this large townhouse development.

    When asked if the residents of Cottonwood Landing will be able to save their townhouses, Black looked down and said, “I don’t know. We’ve done all we can. Our wall isn’t going to go up as tall as we are supposed to. You know, none of us have flood insurance.” Tears began flowing down this hard-working man’s face as a moment of silence sat in.

    Black is also upset that Nebraska’s Governor Dave Heineman has not ordered the National Guard into South Sioux City to help residents prepare for the flood.

    “Where is the National Guard that South Dakota has?” Black asked. “They have the National Guard. They have the helicopters and we have their problem.”

    Black said when Heineman orders the Nebraska National Guard into South Sioux City, “it will be too late. They are a bunch of penny-pinchers. They want to save their money and scrimp by.”

    Black said that all but one of the residents have moved their possessions out of the threatened townhouses.

    Regarding that one resident, “He says he’s going to fight it, but they are talking about 14 or 15 feet of water here,” said Black.

    Saturday, M.E. Collins Contracting (a FEMA contractor) began building a large levy on the northeast side of the city next to the Missouri River. Last Tuesday, the South Sioux City Council voted to spend up to $1,000,000 to construct the levy, but FEMA and the Corps of Engineers talked the city into allowing them to construct and pay for the giant berm.

    The “federal” process delayed the start of construction from Wednesday until Saturday.

    While residents of South Sioux City scramble to sandbag their homes, nothing will work without that tall levy in place at northeast boundary.

    Still, local authorities maintain the levy will be completed by Wednesday and high water is not expected until Thursday or Friday.

    Saturday, nearby Dakota City, Neb. (5 miles south of South Sioux City) looked to be in much better shape than South Sioux City as nearly completed sandbag walls lined the city limits along the river.

    Hundreds in the small town gathered in a local park to make and give away sandbags to residents.

    Over at the Dakota County Courthouse in Dakota City, inmates from the county jail spent their fourth day in a row making sandbags. The prisoners were in high spirits and seemed very glad that they were helping others in this stressful time.

    Though stress is starting to set in across the proposed flood area, residents are helping each other sandbag as many homes as possible.

    Volunteers from across the river in Sioux City, Iowa, are showing up at houses in the flood zone and helping residents every day. Many elderly people in the flood zone have been helped by Habitat for Humanity, students from an alternative school, a group of teachers on summer break and even the Girl Scouts.

    The Missouri River at South Sioux City will officially surpass flood stage at a depth of 30 feet Sunday afternoon. It is expected to rise dramatically to 34 feet by June. 11.

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