Despite backbreaking teamwork to sandbag the riverbanks, the Mississippi River broke through an Illinois levee forcing nearly half a dozen people to be rescued by helicopter. However, because the federal government learned from a 1993 flood in the same area and planned for a repeat, the damage could have actually been much worse.
After the 1993 Mississippi flood, President Clinton purchased much of the low-lying land buying out more than 9,000 homeowners. The land was turned into parks and underdeveloped areas creating much less of a risk when the next flood — like this one — occurred.
The buyout plan moved whole communities including Rhineland, MO and Valmeyer, IL. FEMA also spent $1.6 million to move the resident of Elkport (whose population then numbered 80) and razed the remaining buildings. The ones who remained are paying the price today as their town is now completely inundated with water.
The National Weather Service predicts crests in the next few days along the Mississippi River near St. Louis to approach those 1993 levels. In Canton, MO, the river might reach 27.7 feet high, more than 13 feet above the flood stage.
Though 1993 preparations controlled some damage, area residents are still hurting. Reports of raw sewage and farm runoff in floodwaters raise concerns about public health, and some long-time river dwellers are calling it quits. One woman who's 83, said, "I'm not going back after this one." It was the third time she'd been flooded out of her home since 1965.
Given the sheer number of recent weather-related disasters, is emergency response after the fact enough? Do we need more planning like the 1993 buyout to minimize disaster's affect?