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SF Gets $10 Million Back For Levee Work

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We don't know what's coming, but when if and when it does, city officials say Sioux Falls will be ready.

"One-hundred-fifty-eight thousand eight hundred citizens of this town are safer," said Mayor Mike Huether.
That's because $62.5 million of work began on the Sioux Falls levee system ten years ago. Back in 2001, the city raised and fortified the spillway North of John Morrell. From 2006 up until last year, a dam was built, as well as a levee system that started south by Interstate 229 heading North to Skunk Creek. The last piece of the puzzle was just completed this Summer. Six concrete structures were built along several roads and railroads that were lower than the levees. They have gates that slide to hold back water, yet another safety measure.

Ted Streckfuss of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District said, "In a short 10,13,14 years to be able to go from inception to completion of a project of this magnitude, kuddos to the entire team."

But this wouldn't have been done yet, without the city councils decision in 2009. After Hurricane Katrina, FEMA was required to update maps across the country. That put 1,500 additional property owners in Sioux Falls in a flood plain, which meant they would have to pay flood insurance.

To hurry the project along, the council loaned the federal government $10 million. They found out on Tuesday, they'll be getting that money back. It was a huge risk that puts Sioux Falls ahead of other cities, at least when it comes to preventing water from rushing in.

Sioux Falls City Council Member Greg Jamison said, "Fargo has a bigger events center than we do but we've got a better levee system than they do."

The Army Corp. of Engineers has some small structural upgrades to do. Those are expected to be complete in the summer of 2014. The levee system will then have to be evaluated by the engineers. FEMA will have to review that before the flood plain maps can be updated.

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