Monday, July 04, 2011


Video - When the Levee Breaks" is a blues song written and first recorded by husband and wife Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929. The song is in reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

SouthwestIowaNews | A Pottawattamie County levee was intentionally blown up Friday morning by an unidentified group of citizens.

Pottawattamie County public information officer and County Attorney Matt Wilber said authorities were not notified before the explosion and are investigating who was involved with the decision and execution of the act.

The county was aware previously that a group of citizens wanted to breach the levee to drain pooling water back into the river.

Wilber said the citizens – who operate Vanmann No. 30 Levee – built the levee higher after seeing inundation maps from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May in an attempt to keep water out. But when a natural breach occurred in Harrison County on June 25, water began to pool behind the new fortified levee.

The county was notified that a group of citizens wanted to breach the levee on June 26.

Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Theulen met with the group that evening and informed them that they would likely need the permission of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, before such an activity could take place.

Wilber said Theulen also cautioned that any activity undertaken by them that affected the flow of water would be at their own risk should the lives and property of others be impacted.

On Tuesday, the Iowa DNR determined that it did not have authority to regulate the levee and the Corps indicated Friday morning it had no authority to regulate the levee either since it was not a federal levee.

Wilber said Theulen received a telephone call at 9:50 a.m. Friday from Harrison County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Oliver. Oliver notified Theulan that the Vanmann No. 30 Levee might be in the process of being intentionally breached via explosives.

At 10:10 a.m., the Pottawattamie County Emergency Operations Center received a complaint call from a private citizen who had apparently witnessed the explosion and wanted to know “why the county was blowing up levees.”

Wilber said Pottawattamie County did not participate in this intentional levee breach.

“It is our understanding that neither the State of Iowa, nor the Army Corps of Engineers, nor any other governmental entity, had anything to do with the detonation,” he said.


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