Hoax claims died down a bit across the blogosphere, but the Missouri River still floods, and the two Nebraska nuclear power plants on the Missouri still face threats from the flood.
Comes news via the Omaha World-Herald that members of Nebraska’s and Iowa’s Air National Guard — many of them veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan — patrol the levees, helping protect against floods. Among points of special concern are the nuclear power plants at Fort Calhoun and Cooper.
The military helicopter’s black shadow dances on an engorged Missouri River as the aircraft slowly loops the flood-encircled Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station — the same left-leaning turns the pilot navigated two days prior.
Warrant Officer Boe Searight, 32, with the Nebraska Air National Guard wants the infrared camera mounted under the chopper to record similar flood scenes for levee experts on the ground to compare.
He and his colleague Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Schriner also are looking for new signs of trouble for the flooded plant.
“Keep daily eyes on it and see if anything changes,” says Schriner, 31.
Far below, on mosquito-infested riverbanks, two-person crews with the Nebraska National Guard and Iowa National Guard patrol the Omaha and Council Bluffs levees in mud-caked boots.
Members of the Guard are the front-line levee watchers in an operation that clearly has high stakes: Levees protect about 40,000 people from homelessness in the neighboring river cities — as well as the region’s key airport.
The levee watchers are out there right now — three shifts a day, all week, searching for gopher holes, chasing away sightseers who could fall from the levees, and checking for signs of water seepage.
More than 130 men and women with the Nebraska Army and Air National Guard work each day for flood duty, along with 120 from the Iowa Army and Air National Guard.
The idea is to spot trouble early. Levees don’t always give notice before they rupture, but more often than not they do.
If trouble is spotted, steps can be taken to shore up or boost a weakened levee.
Good to know. Still no nuclear incident along the lines of the hoax report from the Pakistani outlet alleged to be based on a report from a Russian agency — which is also good news — but no cause for abatement of overall concern.
Sometimes safety preparations work. Kudos to the Air National Guards, to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, and to the companies who own the power plants. May their work continue to pay off in no nuclear incidents.
Idaho Samizdat noted earlier that the bizarre conspiracy theories haven’t borne out as accurate or true in the least:
The flooding situation in Nebraska has been the subject of bizarre conspiracy theories originating in Russia and Pakistan alleging that a meltdown has occurred at Ft. Calhoun and that the government is covering it up.
One U.S. web site, Business Insider, ran with the story as legitimate and set off a huge round of copy cat reports on the Internet.
Reports of a U.S. news blackout are also part of the conspiracy theory even though Nebraska papers such as the Omaha World-Herald and the New York Times have run major stories on measures by the two reactor sites to prevent the flood waters from reaching important infrastructure such as switch yards