Missouri to finally drop below flood levels, but for how long?
It's something residents along the Missouri River likely felt they would never see again.
This Sunday, the river is scheduled to go below flood stage in Nebraska City for the first time in 265 days.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Nebraska’s respite from floodwaters may be short-lived.
Concern is already rising that the spring of 2020 may bring more high water to places that still haven’t fully recovered.
The rivers are still unusually high, soil in the upper Midwest is still extremely saturated, and forecasters with the National Weather Service are expecting a wetter-than-usual winter.
Those factors have state officials still on high alert.
"The weather forecast is for another cold, wet winter," Governor Pete Ricketts said to News Channel Nebraska in an interview Monday. "We could see some additional flooding along the Missouri River, there. Hopefully, we do not experience the kinds of events we had earlier this year that impacted other river systems, but I do think there's a lot of concern along the Missouri River."
Gov. Ricketts is part of a coalition of governors along with Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas advocating for changes in the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the Missouri.
"I think the priority has to be protecting people and property," Ricketts said. "Frankly, that has not been the entire case. This is what we as governors want to work with. This is why we want to have a greater role."
But Ricketts says he knows any changes in how the Corps does business won’t come overnight.
"To get anything done in Washington, D.C. take a lot of time," Ricketts said. "You do have to build support for it. So we have to think long-term about how we're going to change this. It's going to start with something that hasn't happened in the past - the governors of these four states impacted on the Lower Missouri working together to say what we want to have happen."
Levees still need to be repaired, releases from Gavins Point Dam are still higher than usual, and winter still has yet to do its worst. But this weekend, for at least a little while, residents along the Missouri River will finally get some relief from high waters.