Stories from Illinois and the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1993.
© 1996 Heritage Press/Great River Publishing. All rights reserved
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CHRONOLOGY of the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1993
The Mississippi River Flood of 1993 began on June 10, 1993, with 8" rainfalls in the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Upper Mississippi River was closed beginning with the first 200 miles on June 20th. It wasn't so much rain right on the Mississippi River, but the fact that over 100 tributaries feeding the Mississippi River were also flooded in wide-spread and unprecedented rains. The river did not reopen to boat traffic until August 24, 1993. For more detail, please click on our Flood Stats page.
Insight Feature Interview
© 1997, Pat Middleton
Have no doubt that runaway flooding is a desperate matter for families that live in the area affected by flooding or other natural river disasters. The following interview with Gloria Bundy of Maeystown, Illinois, reflects on the flooding of 1993 when the levees protecting the flood plains of western Illinois gave way.
"What I remember most," Gloria told me earnestly, "was driving to a spot along the bluff that looked over our acreage below, in the low land along the river. I will never forget seeing only water as far as the eye could see, except for here and there a rooftop. The devastation was complete. Many homes and at least four towns were washed completely away.
"And I remember the silence! A deep, pervasive silence. No birds called, no frogs, no crickets. We later motored a boat over our corn field. The depth finder said twelve feet. A woodpile poked out of the water and I remember it was absolutely covered with these tiny frogs. It was like a Biblical plague!
"Then, as the water dried up, the mosquitoes came. There was an audible roar over the entire valley... it was the hum of hordes of mosquitoes!
"The saddest part of the flood was watching the evacuations during the four weeks before the flood hit here. Families loaded all their belongings onto trucks. There were long lines of trucks leaving the deserted homes and towns. And there was nothing to come back to after water had inundated the houses for over two months. We had a house down there. Two of the walls were just gone.
Gloria and I followed Maeystown Road down the hill to Bluff Road and drove toward Valmeyer.
Gloria continued speaking, "The rail road levees were under water. Any homes we see today were up to their porch roofs in water during the flood. Many of the homes which were under water are gone now. Some homes are being repaired with flood insurance dollars, some were bought out and destroyed by the government.
"Most towns on the bottom land... Valmeyer, Boxtown, Harrisonville, and Fults, were built about 1902 when the railroads came through. The quarries shipped rock by rail. There was lots of work in the quarries, and on the pipelines. It hadn't flooded down here in 99 years when these towns were built. But 1993 was the fourth devastating flood that I've seen since 1943. The first was in 1943, then '44, then '47. Now it has flooded in both '93 and '95. The lucky thing about all these floods, is that no one was ever killed."
At this moment, there are two Valmeyers. One is below the hill and is just a fragment of its pre-flood community. Streets lined with light poles lead nowhere; telephone poles and a few houses still stand in 1997. A car repair shop seems to be the only sign of life. No sign designates this as "old" Valmeyer. Its citizens... 600 of the 900 who populated the old town... have moved en mass to a brand new community up on the bluff. It has a brand new $12 million dollar school. It is far to large for such a tiny community, but not too big for the hopes of the neighborhood.
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August 19, 2007, always be remembered as the night of the 1000-Year Rain Fall. Click for photos, stats, and stories.
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