The Missouri River watchers were out in force over the weekend in Washington. Front Street traffic was heavy as the rising river captured the interest of young and older people.
There are people who have watched the river’s ups and downs for so many years that they are pardoned if they yawned again. This is river country and the stages of the Missouri, Meramec and Bourbeuse rivers always will capture a certain amount of attention. They also usually are coated in beauty and can be fascinating.
For some viewers, it’s their first time to really see the might of Mighty MO. They weren’t around to see the power of Mighty MO in 1993 and 1995. The flooding in those two years imprinted in minds memories that don’t fade. Those were floods for which history is made. The flash floods that occurred on the Meramec and Bourbeuse rivers some 20 and 30 years ago also were memorable. They were devastating.
The older river watchers remember when there weren’t the levees that protect rich bottomlands that we have today. There weren’t any levee districts then and the Corps of Engineers did the best it could with available resources to build levees. The Corps spent millions of dollars building dikes and other work to try to make the channel deeper for barge traffic. There was some success.
Remember when bottomland dwellers would move back into their damaged homes after a flood. They did that it seemed like for lifetimes. That pretty much ended after the floods of the 1990s, which took homes and caused massive damage to roads and levees. It is rare today when people live in the Missouri River Bottoms. Many years ago they didn’t have much of a choice — nowhere else to go.
The Missouri River floods also caused damage and much inconvenience when its tributaries backed up, flooding homes and roads. In the 1993 flood, water backed up and closed West Main Street at Tiemann Drive. Front Street was covered in several locations. Mailboxes floated away on West Main. Remember when the flood water covered the railroad tracks in sections of the city in the record flood of 1993.
While there was some excitement and concern about the present flooding, it is rather tame compared to other years. There were people, especially to the north, who were inconvenienced the past weekend, and had to drive through some water to leave their property to reach highways. It was not as bad as in other years. Not all the area bottomlands are protected by levees, and there were flooded sections.
It must be noted that we have many river watchers at most other times. They don’t just come out when flooding occurs. One only has to look at Rennick Riverfront Park to see people who enjoy being alongside the river, enjoying the sights on Mighty MO, in times of normal river stages. They enjoyed watching the boaters and other river traffic.
The river is a draw in high, normal and low stages. But it can be a mighty force!