Twenty years ago this summer, monsoon-like rains, unseasonably heavy snowfall and unusual air pressure patterns combined to cause massive flooding across nine Midwestern states.
47 people died. Tens of thousands were forced from their homes, water inundated 75 towns and destroyed millions of acres of farmland. Damages were estimated at $20 billion dollars.
I covered the floods for NPR in 1993, and went back to revisit some of the people and places affected by what’s still called The Great Flood.
A powerful flood
In 2011, the Army Corps of Engineers faced infrastructure issues, farmland destruction and reservoir management challenges as it dealt with the aftermath of the flooding. Runoff and drought forecasts for the summer show decreasing drought levels across the Midwest plains and increased soil moisture levels. (See here for more predictions from the Missouri DNR.) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City District produced a good summary of the problems they faced with the flooding and drought of 2011-2012. The Corps also had to defend the maintenance and management of the river’s infrastructure after the 2011 floods.
As Mississippi River levels continue to drop, leaders from the river navigation industry sent a letter to President Obama asking for an emergency declaration.
The Army Corps of Engineers wants to build a new chute at Jameson Island designed to protect the pallid sturgeon and other native fish species.