Of all the natural disasters the US has suffered since 1980, The Great Flood of 1993 is one of the most difficult for a number of reasons.
You may only think of flooding that comes with a major catastrophe like a hurricane. But flooding is not uncommon outside of major storms. Unlike a hurricane, there is frequently little or no warning that flooding is on its way. Flash floods can happen with little or no prediction, leaving considerable destruction without a lot of wind damage.
Unlike a hurricane or tropical storm that makes landfall and leaves, the Great Flood of 1993 was the result of a number of activities that compounded over time. There was some prior warning that it could happen. The NOAA warned about the possibility after 1992’s wet autumn and that even a normal amount of snowfall during the winter months could have a significant impact during the spring when thawing began.
When spring arrived, the rain was continuous and constant. From April 1, through September 30, 1993, saturated soil caused serious runoffs that caused excess runoff in streams and rivers. With nowhere else to go, the water broke levees and dams in the Upper Mississippi Valley, flooding over 30,000 square miles, including 75 towns. The flooding caused $15 billion in damages and ultimately killed 50 people.
Ironically, during the same time period, the Southeastern US experienced high heat and drought conditions.
Nine states were affected by this event:
Many locations that normally see 8 or 9 days of rain in a month saw 20 or more days of rain.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that water went over or damaged 40 of 229 federal levees, and 1,043 of 1,347 non-federal levees. Damage from the flood included:
The water finally dropped below sea level on October 7th in St. Louis, MO. When it was all over, more than 100,000 homes were destroyed, and the towns of Valmeyer, Illinois, and Rhineland, Missouri were relocated to a higher level area. More than 15 million acres of farmland were also flooded. Bridges were destroyed, washed out or otherwise unusable, creating commutes in excess of 200 miles in some cases.
Flooding can cause devastation that can take months or years to recover from. But it starts when you begin getting your business back up and running.
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