I am beginning to relive some of the trauma of life along the Middle Mississippi Mississippi during 1993. Valmayer, Illinois, is back in the news as the community works desparately to fill 25,000 sandbags, and flooding at the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi near St. Louis has caused widespread flooding. During 1993, which closed down commercial shipping on the river for many months, I traveled the river frequently. ALWAYS it was stomach-wrenching!
The Flood of 2019 has now been ongoing some 82 days… since MARCH for folks in the Middle Mississippi. As we watch the current flood peaking in the next week, and hear about “levee boils” and breaks in the levees, it is worth noting that in 1993, the first dam did not burst until June 20th in Wisconsin. It was August 2 before the Mississippi crested at 49.7 feet in St. Louis. Today, rains still fall from Oklahoma to Louisiana, impacting both the Missouri and the Lower Mississippi Rivers. 2019 has been a record flood in terms of the time it has been affecting those who live along the Mississippi and its tributaries.
First a Chronology of the Flood of 1993, compiled by Pat Middleton, Greatriver.com
1993 Mississippi Flood CHRONOLOGY
The National Weather Service predicts below normal precipitation for the summer: “but above average rainfall could mean flooding, given soil saturation, spring snow depths, and normal spring rains.”
The first 8” rainstorms begin in Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota June 20The first dam bursts, submerging 100 homes to their rooftops on the Black River in Western Wisconsin. The upper 200 miles of the Mississippi River are closed to river traffic. Locks and Dams are not operating.
The bridge at Keokuk closes.
The bridge closes at Fort Madison, Iowa, which has experienced rain for 54 of 58 days. 830 miles of Mississippi River are closed to boat traffic between Cairo, Illinois and St. Paul, Minnesota. Over 100 rivers feeding into the Mississippi River flood by July 14. Unprecedented high-water on the Missouri River, Des Moines River, Illinois, Iowa, Skunk, Rock and Raccoon rivers (all tributaries of the Mississippi River) promote the massive flooding of the Mississippi River.
The last Quincy, Illinois, bridge is closed, leaving no bridge between Alton, Illinois and Burlington, Iowa. The Mississippi River is flooded to seven miles inland.
The Mississippi River at Quincy crests at a record 32 feet.
The Mississippi River crests at 49.7 feet in St. Louis, Missouri. Eleven times the volume of Niagara Falls is flowing under Eads Bridge; enough to fill Busch stadium every 65 seconds.
The Mississippi River locks reopen to commercial river traffic.
The Des Moines River floods again, after another 10 inches of rain falls. The Mississippi River stays open.
Sandbags and Stuff
(Statistics collected from various regional newspaper sources.)
These stats offer a base for comparison as states come out for the Flood of 2019.
- Estimated that two truckloads of sand (a little less than fifty tons) will fill 4000 sandbags.
- More than 26.5 million sandbags were used in towns along the Mississippi River during the Flood of 1993
- Approximately 927 million pounds of sand was used to fill those sandbags
- Homeowners had to fill their own sandbags
- In all, 150 primary and secondary levees failed during the summer.
- 12 billion dollars in damages
- 48 deaths
- nine states involved
- 1 inch of water on an acre of land equals 27,143 gallons.