Mark Twain wrote that if the Mississippi were a "little European river... it would just be a holiday job... to wall it, and pile it, and dike it, and tame it down, and boss it around... But this ain't that kind of a river."



The 1993 midwest flood was one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Damages totaled $15 billion, 50 people died, hundreds of levees failed, and thousands of people were evacuated, some for months. The flood was unusual in the magnitude of the crests, the number of record crests, the large area impacted, and the length of the time of the flood.Some locations on the Mississippi River flooded for almost 200 days while locations on the Missouri neared 100 days of flooding It was estimated that nearly all of the 700 privately built agricultural levees were overtopped or destroyed. Navigation on the Mississippi and Missouri River had been closed since early July resulting in a loss of $2 million (1993) per day in commerce

It ranked as one of the greatest natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Approximately 600 river forecast places in the Midwestern United States were above flood stage at the same time. Nearly 150 major rivers and tributaries were affected. It was the largest and most significant flood event ever to occur in the United States.

During June through August 1993, rainfall totals surpassed 12 inches across the eastern Dakotas, southern Minnesota, eastern Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. More than 24 inches of rain fell on central and northeastern Kansas, northern and central Missouri, most of Iowa, southern Minnesota, and southeastern Nebraska, with up to 38.4 inches in east-central Iowa Many locations in the nine-state area experienced rain on 20 days or more in July, compared to an average of 8-9 days with rain.

The Great Flood of 1993 had been set by June 1 with saturated soils and streams filled to capacity across the Upper Midwest. Runoff from the ensuing persistent heavy rains of June, July, and August had no place to go other than into the streams and river channels





For many towns along the upper Mississippi River, the 2001 flood brought the second highest water levels on record. The 2001 flood crest exceeded the crests from the 1993 and 1997 flood at most locations. Only the flood of 1965 was worse.

Over the winter of 2000/2001, there was a heavy snow cover up north in southern Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and southern Minnesota. A late, rapid snowmelt with heavy rain, led to the flood. There were actually two flood crests at many locations. The first occurred around April 20 . Additional rain led to a second crest the week of April 29.

The early Spring flood forcasts predicted only minor flooding along the Mississippi. In early April, it became obvious that rapidly warming temperatures and rain would lead to significant flooding. The National Weather Service issued new forcasts calling for near record flooding in many locations, and sandbagging in those areas began.

Flooding also occurred along the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers, both of them flow into the Mississippi. Flooding also occurred along the Red River, which flows north into Canada from Minnesota and North Dakota.

In mid-May, the river has finally dropped below flood stage, after over a month above flood stage. Many towns had built floodwalls or dikes after the 1965 flood so they were spared from major damage to their towns.


Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois

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