PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College
October 30, 2011
There always has been and there always will be some form of natural disaster occurring in the world at any given time. Some natural disasters are worst than others but one thing is for sure, once you have seen a disaster first hand you will never forget it. There are many different causes of natural disasters by the weather and by the earth. The sheer raw power that is demonstrated by the environment that we live in is a testament to just really how small and helpless we can be when the nature decides to flex its muscles. My personal experience with a natural disaster can in the form of rain, which brought the floodwaters.
I was born and raised in Southern Illinois. In the summer of 1993 the entire Midwestern part of the United States flooded. I will never forget seeing the 550 acres of horseradish, corn, and soybeans I worked every day of my childhood being twenty feet under water. There was water as far as you could see in some areas for miles at a time with only the top of an occasional tree here and there breaking the surface of the water. The Mississippi river was forty miles wide in some areas and the farm was only twelve miles from the river. I can still remember seeing the people and animals on the rooftops waiting to be rescued by the National Guard.
The great flood of 1993 was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S history. It occurred because of the unusually high rainfall amounts that fell during June through August 1993. The 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. These amounts were approximately 200-350 percent of normal from the northern plains southeastward into the central United States. From April 1 through August 31, precipitation amounts approached 48 inches in east-central Iowa, easily surpassing the area's normal annual precipitation of 30-36 inches. Ten states received more than twenty days of continuous rain during July and another eight or nine days during August. This is more consistent of the kind of weather the area would receive during early spring instead of the middle of summer (Larson, 1993).
The death and destruction from this flood was enormous and is one of the most costly in loss of life and financial resources. It is estimated that over fifty people died because of the flood and that there was over fifteen billion dollars in damage. Some small farming communities were completely wiped off the face of the earth and have never been rebuilt. Thousands of people were evacuated, some never returned to their homes. There were over 10,000 homes destroyed and hundreds of small towns were impacted with more than seventy communities completely submerged under the floodwaters. Over 15 million acres of farmland were destroyed some of which would not be useable for years to come since the fields lost their top soil because of the rushing waters. Barge traffic on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers was stopped for nearly 2 months. Bridges were out or not accessible on the Mississippi River from Davenport, Iowa, downstream to St. Louis, Missouri. On the Missouri River, bridges were out from Kansas City, downstream to St. Charles, Missouri. Numerous interstate highways and other roads were closed. Ten commercial airports were flooded. All railroad traffic in the Midwest was halted. Numerous sewage treatment and water treatment plants were destroyed (Larson, 1993).
I remember the older folks in my town and my elders telling me about previous floods in the area over the years. They said that every hundred years are so that there would be a great flood more devastating than the other floods were in the past. They were right and I can say from witnessing this experience firsthand I saw both acts of selfishness and unselfish acts happen during this time of natural disaster. There was individuals who were the hero’s and there were others who were thugs praying on the weak moments of others for their own benefit. Some towns came together to overcome this disaster while other towns fell out of unity and eventually apart never able to recover from the flood. For me I saw the town I grew up in rebuild and the farm came back to life again and still produces horseradish, corn, and soybeans to this day. I find it very funny that three years later when I was living in Oregon it flooded here in1996. I can say from personal experience while most Oregonians were shocked by the damage they say here in the Willamette Valley that they truly do not understand the meaning of the word flood.
Mark Twain said a hundred years ago, the Mississippi River "cannot be tamed, curbed or confined, you cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over and laugh at." I believe he said it best for those of us who chose to live by any river. I also believe that there will be another flood like this again someday. God’s word says that it rains on the just, as well as the unjust.
Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2011). Environment: the science behind the stories
(4th ed.). New York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN-139780321715340
Retrieved October 30th, 2011
Retrieved October 30th, 2011