Every evening, my father climbs the levee along the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and peers down into the black water that swallows the road. The water is rising, and the Army Corps of Engineers says the levee has never faced such a test. Dad, a retired professor, is packing his books and papers. If the levee doesn't hold, his one-story house could be underwater for months.
A little farther up the Missouri, at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station near Blair, Nebraska, the river is already lapping at the Aqua Dams -- giant plastic tubes filled with water -- that form a stockade around the plant's buildings. The plant has become an island.