Back at the end of 2015 and start of 2016, my little part of the Midwest was majorly flooded out. Well, April into May, it happened again. So like in my previous post on the topic, entitled Isolation (and thus the inspiration for the title of this post), many roads were flooded out, including many major interstates and highways that never flooded before these two events. And on top of this, it happened in tandem with my wedding.
So let us start with the weekend before all this began. That’s when the reports of days of rain began and I kept hoping the meteorologist would be wrong, that Mother Nature would chance her mind. Nope. Quite the opposite. It rained the whole three-hour drive from where my now-husband and I work to my hometown where the wedding would be. The next day, we had a break in the rain but by that Friday, it was back in full force.
That Saturday, April 29th, was the wedding. It rained all morning as everything was being prepared. Thankfully, by the time of the ceremony and for a few hours after, we had a break in the storm front. That allowed us get some outdoor pictures at the church, but between the pending rain and existing mud, we could not go to a nearby plantation house for photos as we had planned. On top of this, because of the earlier rain, many could not attend. because roads in the backcountry were already flooded and part of a road had even collapsed where the creek undercut it. By the time we left for the reception venue, the skies were darkening and the rain returned while we were enroute. The reception was accompanied by a severe thunderstorm the entire time.
The next day, was another adventure in wetness. We had to load up the car and return a few things to my parents house before returning to work the next day (we are not taking the honeymoon until June). We planned to stay there through at least lunch but it didn’t happen that way. Overflowing ditches already had water over the backroads from town to to home in five places and another seasonal creek (dry year round except in cases of extreme rain) was quickly rising. We swapped things out and fled, raining all the way back.
Over the next week, we watched the reports both on TV and social media and the area we grew up in returned to the swampland it once was. Rivers, creeks, and other streams grew to many times thier usual size, often flooding areas that never flooded in the past. A reservoir that once collapsed became over-topped and flooded the land below. Two dams became over-topped, one using the auxiliary spillway for the first time in its 70+ year history. Both are still, weeks later, at capacity as water cannot be released to go downstream as flood waters still need to recede. Levees were breached and at least two town were more-or-less wiped off the map. A diversion channel that is usually not seen on satellite images became a rival to the Mississippi is drains into. Multiple highways and interstates became flooded, the longest decommissioned for more than a week. Many schools had to call off because the buses could not run the routes. It was a mess, to say the least. So for most of the state, it was again isolation as people could not move between places. Clean-up from the previous flooding had just been completed before the holidays and now it is underway again.
To see what I mean about the size of the flooding, take a look at this comparison. The image on the left was from a NASA satellite image taken on April 25th. The one on the right is from May 2nd.
Here is a link that shows both images larger and offers a comparison overlay.
Needless to say, it’s been an adventure in wetness in Missouri now that we have had two major flooding events in 16 months, both not quite short enough to be a flash flood but not long enough to be a repeat of 1993 or 1995. However, it has similarities to the floods in 2008 and 2011 where the events were unexpected, hit quickly, and hit hard. Some say it is because of too many and/or too high levees and they may be right. After all, that removed many natural floodplains.
So with this exposé in mind, I’ll sign off to return to bookish or historical topics in future weeks. However, I couldn’t help but to write a bit about history in the making. Have you had any history in the making in your area? If so, what and how did it affect you? Or if you also hail from Missouri, what were your experiences during this event, which is still ongoing for many in some way, shape, or form?
“Two catastrophic floods in less than two years wasn’t just a case of bad luck” by May 8, 2017.
KFVS’ (news station out of Cape Girardeau) Spring Flood ’17 webpage