Flood of 1993

Published March 31, 2010 by LS Murphy

I feel for the people in New England. The days where the rain won’t stop. The nights where you wonder if you are going to float away. And the flooding. Oh, the horrible sound of rushing water into your basement. The inability to walk from your house to the street.  I feel for you. And I can relate.

Back in the summer of 1993, I lived in a small town in Iowa called Keokuk.  (Yep, I’m showing my age here.) Keokuk sits on the confluence of the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers.

That was the year the Mississippi showed its might.

A small town in Missouri, officially called Alexandria but known as Eleck to locals, felt the first effects. Alexandria is just across the Des Moines River. The water crept to the raised railroad tracks, then it hit the levee. For years if you traveled along Highway 61 North, you could still see where the levee broke. When the flood was at its peak, the only bit of Eleck that could be seen were the rooftops of the few homes.

I was fortunate. Keokuk sits on a bluff. Across the Mississippi, the residents of Hamilton, Illinois weren’t as lucky. A lot of people work in Keokuk. When the bridge between Iowa and Illinois became impassable, the only way to cross the river was driving three hours south to St. Louis or three hours north to the Quad Cities which is made up of Davenport, IA, Moline, IL, Rock Island, IL, and Bettendorf, IA.

There was one lone bridge that was open over the Des Moines River to connect Iowa to Missouri. I braved it to visit my father one day. I regretted it.

The river was so high that it was only an inch or two from the deck of the ancient toll bridge. The lanes were so narrow that you didn’t even think about crossing when a tractor-trailer was heading your way. The water rushed so fast that the bridge shook and swayed like a windy day atop the St. Louis Arch.

I didn’t think I would make it. I didn’t think the bridge could hold much longer. If only the car in front of me would speed up!

But I got across. And told my dad I’d see him when the waters receded. No way I was taking that bridge again.

So, to the people in the Northeast, the Midwest feels your pain. The best thing that came out of the Flood of 93 was the community it invoked. People came together to help one another and to help their towns. Keep your chin up.  It’ll be over before you know it.

Then you can blog about it 17 years later.


One comment on “Flood of 1993

  • Was it really 17 years ago already? Time flies. Living in the Quad Cities, I too remember the floods of 1993 very well. Although I lived far from the river in Moline and worked up the hill from downtown in Davenport, it was such a constant emotional drain for those weeks. (Plus my commute was affected for probably a month.) The River Bandits stadium was basically destroyed. And the damage to the smaller towns south of here, like Keithsburg, was devastating.

    Although the floods two years ago weren’t as bad in the Quad Cities as they were elsewhere, it’s still a reminder that as beautiful as I find the Mississippi and other rivers around here, they can be so destructive at times as well.

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