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Cost from river flooding already tops $1 billion. And that’s just for levee damage

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are estimating that it will take two years and more than $1 billion to restore the damage caused to levees along the Missouri and Platte rivers from flooding this year.

And that number is likely to go up.

“I want to emphasize that number will change once we get boots on the ground and we are able to actually look at the levees that are damaged and can assess what it takes to repair those,” said Tom Brady, program manager for flood control and coastal emergencies for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Widespread rain this spring in the Midwest and snow melt runoff from major winter storms in the northern Great Plains have led to some of the worst flooding along the Missouri River basin since 2011. In the Kansas City region, levees in the eastern Jackson County town of Levasy have breached and flooding has submerged portions of Parkville.

Brady said the Army Corps of Engineers has received 100 eligible requests for assistance in making repairs to damage along 850 miles of levees on the Missouri and Platte rivers. Some requests for assistance have not yet been received, particularly in eastern Missouri where levee damage is relatively recent, Brady said.

The Missouri River begins in Montana and meanders through 10 states, including Kansas and Missouri where it runs through Kansas City, before flowing into the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. The Platte River is a tributary in Nebraska that flows into the Missouri River.

Flooding continues to afflict rivers in Kansas, including the Black Vermillion and Big Blue rivers, as well as the Grand and Osage rivers in Missouri.

Heavy rain over the Midwest last week didn’t help matters.

Kevin Low, hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said there are chances for showers and thunderstorms during the next seven days.

“If you look at the seven-day total,” Low said, “it should be two inches or less.”

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