Over the course of a three-month period in the summer of 1993, a slow-moving and historic flooding disaster unfolded across the midwestern United States, leaving economic ramifications that would be felt for years to come. More than 17 million acres were flooded across nine states in the Midwest during the summer of 1993, starting in June and lasting through August. This is an area larger than the entire state of West Virginia. “The magnitude and severity of this flood event was simply overwhelming, and it ranks as one of the greatest natural disasters ever to hit the United States,” said the Hydrologic Research Laboratory. This long-duration river flooding caused hundreds of levees failures, 50 fatalities and an estimated $15 billion in damages. While the worst of the flooding occurred in the summer of 1993, impacts across the region lasted for years. In St. Louis, the Mississippi remained above flood stage for 144 days between April 1 and September 30, 1993. Of the 17 million acres that were flooded, a majority was being used as farmland. This had a long-term impact on the industry as some of the land was not able to be used again for farming for several years after flood waters had receded. Shipping and transportation industries were also severely impacted during the height of the flooding. High water also rendered some bridges that spanned across the Mississippi River unusable for weeks, disrupting travel across the region. In some cases, this meant taking a detour of over 100 miles just to make it to the other side of a flooded river. The historic flooding was not caused by one single rainfall event, but rather an extended period of above-normal rainfall across the same region. On September 23, 1993 the summer was over, indicative of the rainfall was Cedar Rapids, Iowa that measured 35 inches of rain for the summer, the 3 summer months brought them the average rainfall for the entire year.
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