Watching the videos showing the flooding in Alton, Illinois, and the Missouri communities of St. Charles, Eureka, Arnold, St. Louis, and St. Mary, was a solemn reminder of the power of water. The destructive power is further enhanced with all the many levees channeling the water into smaller and smaller areas. I can remember as a child looking at places such as Earth City with amazement. The ground was usually a swampy mess for much of the year. It always fascinated me to look at this area when we crossed the Missouri River from St. Charles county into St. Louis County. There were no buildings. It was just filled with a little water and a lot of cattails. It certainly is different today. (Building casinos with a moat around them to qualify as a riverboat as stated in Missouri statutes is another topic for another time.)
Building levees to hold the water out of a particular area has sometimes been successful and other times not so much. How many millions (or billions) of dollars are sitting in the Earth City flood plain and the Chesterfield Valley now? Who will absorb the cost of multi-million dollar buildings being destroyed when the levee doesn't hold? How high will the levees eventually have to be in places like Ste. Genevieve and Cape Girardeau because the water is funneled more and more into a confined space? Who are the winners and who are the losers in the man-made attempt to control mother nature and the shipping lanes of the rivers?
I don't know if the sign is still there or not, but a sign along Highway 79 for years simply stated, "It is called a flood plain because it is plain to see that it floods." That is succinctly stated. Major floods have happened frequently in my lifetime, and yet, we continue to build and build in the flood plains. I guess I just don't see the logic in tempting mother nature.
Look at this quote from www.history.com regarding the 1972-1973 flood.
The Mississippi River reaches its peak level in St. Louis during a record 77-day flood. During the extended flood, 33 people died and more than $1 billion in damages were incurred.
By the middle of March, flood waters began inundating some communities along the Mississippi. The worst of it came in early April when 6 million acres south of St. Louis, Missouri, were claimed by the river and many levees crumbled and failed.
You can read the whole article at:
The question I have is a simple one. If there was one billion dollars worth of damage in 1973, how much would it be in 2016 if the levees crumble and fail?
I don't remember the years of all the floods but it seems like we were hit somewhat hard in 1973, 1978, 1986, and 1993. Reading accounts of 1973 and 1993 reflect a little of how we got to this point in 2015/2016. I would encourage you to take the time to read an article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch which demonstrates some of the reactions after 1973 and 1993.
Lewis and Clark had quite an adventure back in their day. We build dams and create levee districts in modern times. We have concocted quite an adventure of our own.