Map, static: Comparing Floods

Other Static Maps

Residents along the Mississippi River are no strangers to overflows and flooding during the spring thaw and rains. Since the early 18th century, settlers have built levees and floodwalls along the 2,000 mile long waterway to try and control it. However, in years with record-breaking rainfall, like 1927 and 1993, trying to tame the river becomes impossible. Mark Twain wrote that if the Mississippi were a "little European river... it would just be a holiday job... to wall it, and pile it, and dike it, and tame it down, and boss it around... But this ain't that kind of a river."

1927 flood

Flood of 1927

The Mississippi and its swollen tributaries reached peak levels in April of 1927 and overflowed their banks. One by one, levees built to contain the river broke, and a wall of water pushed its way across Midwestern farmlands. The flood covered 27,000 square miles, an area about the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined. For two long months the water would remain above flood stage, leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.

Flood of 1993

Areas Affected by the Flood of 1993The flood of 1993 was one of the most devastating floods in United States history. More than double the normal amount of rainfall fell in the Midwest during the first half of the year, flooding over 16,000 square miles in nine states. Major flooding was confined to the Upper Mississippi due to the less than average level of inflow from Lower Mississippi tributaries.

 

 

Statistical Comparison

           1927 Flood                 
1993 Flood                
Human Loss
of Life
246 47
Displaced People 700,000 74,000
Financial Loss $347,000,000 in 1927
= $4.4 billion in 1993 dollars
$7,500,536,000
Structural Damage 137,000 buildings
destroyed or damaged
47,650 buildings
destroyed or damaged
Flooded Area 27,000 square miles 15,600 square miles
River Volume 2,500,000 cubic feet
of water per second
1,000,000 cubic feet
of water per second (USGS)

Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers except where noted.

 

Images from the Flood, Then and Now

Refugees waiting in line for food at a Forrest City Refugee Camp

 

 

 

Refugees waiting in line for food at a Forrest City Refugee Camp, 1927

Library of Congress


Main Street, Greenville

 

 

 

Main Street, Greenville, 1927

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


 

Refugees await evacuation in Vicksburg

 

 

 

Refugees await evacuation in Vicksburg, 1927

National Archives



Finding shelter in a makeshift tent on a Hamburg levee

 

 

 

Finding shelter in a makeshift tent on a Hamburg levee, 1927

National Archives


 

Receiving water from a famp kitchen area in Baton Rouge

 

 

 

Receiving water from a famp kitchen area in Baton Rouge, 1927

Louisiana State University

 

Alexandria residents return to submurged homes

 

 

Alexandria residents return to submurged homes

Federal Emergency Management Agency/Andrea Booher

 

Crossing the river by car becomes impossible in Quincy, 1993

 

 

Crossing the river by car becomes impossible in Quincy, 1993

Federal Emergency Management Agency/Andrea Booher

 

In St. Louis, a simple request, 1993

 

 

 

In St. Louis, a simple request, 1993

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

 

Filling sandbags in St. Charles, 1993

 

 

Filling sandbags in St. Charles, 1993

Federal Emergency Management Agency/Andrea Booher


Floodwaters in St. Genevieve, 1993

 

 

Floodwaters in St. Genevieve, 1993

Federal Emergency Management Agency/Andrea Booher

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

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