Carter Lake, Iowa
The Missouri river has the largest upstream drainage basin of any river in Nebraska, so it has proven capable of thwarting almost every attempt to control it. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed six large reservoirs along the "main-stem" of the Missouri in order to try to control floods and provide other benefits.
The Missouri river still has the potential for causing major problems. Ice jams, snowmelt, and intense rainfall are all causes of floods which have occurred historically on the Missouri. Ironically, the main-stem reservoirs built in-part to control floods may exacerbate the ice jam problem because low wintertime discharges might facilitate ice formation. Floods along the Missouri River in Nebraska have occurred frequently.
At Omaha, Nebraska in March of 1877, due to an ice jam, the river crested at 22.45 feet and had a discharge of 200,000 cubic feet/second (89,760,000 gallons/minute). 3000 men helped fight the flood, but after a week, the River found a weak spot in the temporary dike and the battle was lost. 100 homes were flooded when the floodwater also breached a new dike at Locust Street. The industrial section on Grace Street was flooded, and businesses were closed several days. 1000 people were evacuated from East Omaha as the old Lake Florence bed filled and inundated the area with seven feet of water in 18 hours.As the flood waters receded, the course of the river had been redirected 2km (1.25mi) to the southeast.
Carter Lake is a former channel of the Missouri River. The remnants of the old river course, which was called Saratoga Bend, became an oxbow-shaped lake, for which the town is named today.
Carter Lake is the only city in Iowa located west of the Missouri River. Soon after the formation of the lake, the site became a flourishing recreational area. It included, "a boathouse at the foot of Locust Street, hotels and club houses were numerous and the lake was the scene of many a pleasant rowing and fishing party."
After extensive litigation between Iowa and Nebraska, in 1892 the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that Carter Lake belonged to Iowa (145 U.S. 519). Legally considered part of Council Bluffs, residents lacked the basic city services enjoyed by residents east of the Missouri and were still subject to city taxes. The community successfully seceded in the 1920's, intending to become part of Omaha, but the Nebraska city did not want to pay to extend sewers or water lines either and in 1930 Carter Lake was incorporated as its own municipality.
Carter Lake creates a geographic oddity for travelers going to Eppley Airfield which it surrounds on the south and west. Consequently travelers going to Eppley Airfield from anywhere except North Omaha, will be going through Carter Lake, Iowa. It has caused great confusion when travelers not used to the area go through and see a "Welcome to Iowa" sign on their way to and from the airport.
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What are two of the contributing factors that can cause the Missouri river to flood?
What was the lake prior to the flood?
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