Weathering the Storm: The 1993 Mississippi Flood

How did Midwestern subscribers of MOTHER EARTH NEWS fare after the great 1993 Mississippi flood?

| December/January 1993

For much of the country, the 1993 Mississippi Flood is out of sight, out of mind. Headlines dropped from front pages as newspapers and magazines moved onto fresher, more timely tragedies. But throughout the Midwest, federal disaster relief has yet to come and the pace of disaster recovery is slow. Thousands are still struggling to get back on their feet.

More than 73,000 homes, 23 million farm acres, and $10 billion worth of flood damage has been done. Concerned about our subscribers who live in the nine states hit by the flood: Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, MOTHER EARTH NEWS called a number of them to find out how they were faring.

For some the flood meant a week without showering; for others it meant the loss of their home, their income, and virtually all of their personal belongings. While their stories varied dramatically, most subscribers had little faith in the federal government's ability to help them out but a strong dedication to their community as a powerful resource. Despite the amount of devastation that occurred, not one of them had any intention of moving away from their town.

Below are the stories of three subscribers who have been busy cleaning up the damage and continuing to move forward. To all our recovering readers: we wish you luck and hope to hear how you're doing.

Merry Anne Burrier of Leighton, Iowa

Merry Anne Burrier lives in the Des Moines River Valley of Leighton, Iowa, about 3/4 of a mile from the river. She's used to having water seep into her basement and wasn't worried when it started flooding the room this summer. While the sump pump that she and husband George kept there worked for a while, the water eventually climbed so high that Merry Anne was sure the basement walls would cave in. To equalize the pressure, they pulled the pump out and let the room fill. When it finally stopped, almost five feet of water had settled in the basement.

Two weeks later, Merry Anne woke up to find the river in her backyard 50 feet from her house and fast approaching. Worried that the main floors of her house and barn would be flooded, she and George started moving household items to her parents' house, two miles away.

"I didn't want to be woken up at 2 A.M. by someone telling us we had to get out right away and that we could take our kids and nothing else," says Merry Anne.

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