HOLDING THE WATER BACK–In this North County News file photo, provided by the Gilbert Dinan family, water that came down from the north is pictured stopped by the Prairie du Rocher Levee. On Aug. 2, 1993 a section of the levee (not pictured) was blasted open in an effort to equalize the water and save the village. The water levels finally crested a few days later on Aug. 8 at Prairie du Rocher, sparing the town.
Springtime in 1993 brought a lot of rain to the Midwest. The rains continued through the summer and as areas up north became overwhelmed with water, it continued to flow downstream.
Locally, whole communities, like Valmeyer and Kaskaskia found themselves almost washed away and were submerged under flood waters. Other local villages, like Prairie du Rocher and Evansville, while they may have suffered some losses, fought back against Mother Nature and triumphed.
According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River crested in Chester during the Great Flood of 1993 at 49.74 feet on Aug. 7. While that is still the highest crest on record at Chester, the river has crested above major flood stage (40 feet) a total of five times since then. It reached 45.99 feet on Jan. 2, 2016; 44.66 feet on May 6, 2017; 44.00 feet on May 23, 1995; 42.41 feet on June 5, 2013; and 40.58 feet on May 17, 2002.
It’s been 25 years now since the Great Flood, but the memories of the event, as well as a few reminders, remain. The North County News met with three men recently to discuss their memories of the flood and their roles in the flood response.
Fort de Chartres and Ivy Landing Levee Commissioner Mark Laurent not only discussed the Great Flood, but also took the News on a tour of the levees around Prairie du Rocher.
For more from the Great Flood of 1993, please see this week’s print edition.