What Did We Learn From the Great Flood of ’93? Not Much, Say Many.

By on July 30, 2018

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  The small town of Valmeyer, Ill., which had hugged the edge of the Mississippi River flood plain for more than 80 years, was essentially wiped off the map — forced to move to higher ground nearby.

Forty miles to the west, the muddy waters of the Missouri River poured into the Chesterfield Valley, inundating some 250 businesses.

Highway 40 (Interstate 64) was closed temporarily by the massive flood; an estimated 4,000 people locally were without jobs for months.

In the region, thousands of homes were flooded; some were swept away entirely.

Twenty-five years ago this week, one of the worst flooding events in U.S. history paralyzed the St. Louis area and much of the Midwest.

In the aftermath of the devastating Flood of 1993, officials vowed to learn from the disaster and reduce future flood risk.

Yet major floods have struck the area with unusual frequency in the years since — and some experts say the region is now even more vulnerable.

Setting the stage

The summer of 1993 saw heavy rains follow a nine- or 10-month wet period that saturated the central U.S. and set the stage for months of high and record-breaking flood levels along the region’s major waterways, including the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

“Some forecast points remained above flood stage for as long as five straight months,” says an account of the flood from the National Weather Service. In St. Louis, river heights exceeded “the previous flood of record for more than three full weeks,” and spent more days above flood stage than in the rest of the city’s recorded history combined.

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