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Bill Asks For Advanced Notice From Army Corps

May 10, 2012, 9:54 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Bill Asks For Advanced Notice From Army Corps

It would require the Army Corps of Engineers to give the public more warning about high levels of runoff in the Missouri River.

A bill introduced in Congress by South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem Thursday aims at avoiding the frantic situation many South Dakota homeowners found themselves in during last summer's flooding.

Crews are still working to remove the evidence of last year's flood in Dakota Dunes. Levees are coming down and homes are being repaired.

It was nearly a year ago when Lee Noel's backyard was home to a large levee.

"It's quite the scene from last year to this year. You almost can't imagine what it looks like. It's been an impressive turnaround," Noel said.

Noel also remembers the chaotic scene when he got home from college and had to help his parents evacuate as the Army Corps of Engineers kept raising the river levels.

"It was just a really quick turnaround from what had gone to higher than normal, to flood stage, then mandatory evacuation and you need to be out of here pretty quick," Noel said.

In her newly-proposed bill, Noem is asking that the Corps give the public seven days notice when the Missouri River is reaching certain high-river thresholds.

Dakota Dunes leaders support a move for more communication.

"Just the fact that there's an effort to outline a process is a great start and that's what we need to get to," Dakota Dunes Community Improvement District Manager Jeff Dooley said.

Dakota Dunes leaders say they have had conference calls with the Corps of Engineers every other week this spring to make sure they stay informed on the river levels.

But Dooley says it's not just the advanced warning that's important; it's also important for them to understand the information and be able to relate that to their community.

Residents like Noel say it would be a welcome concept in the Dunes.

"It'd be more than welcome. It's a safety concern. It's beneficial not just for us on the river, but for anyone in the area.  Because when you get that advanced warning, maybe some more planning, maybe get some more people to help you move out," Noel said.

But they hope they don't have to do that anytime soon.

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