Flooding in Mississippi

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Flooding in Mississippi

In the summer of 1993 the United States were faced with the most devastating flood that has ever occurred. Seventeen thousand square miles of land were covered by floodwaters in a region covering all or parts of nine states (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois). All large Midwestern streams flooded including the Mississippi, Missouri, and Kansas, Illinois, Des Moines and Wisconsin rivers. The Mississippi river was above flood stage for 144 days between April and September and approximately 3 billion cubic meters of water overflowed from the river channel onto the floodplain downstream from St. Louis.

There were 4 principal reasons why flooding was so extensive:

Ø The region received higher than normal precipitation during the first half of 1993. Much of the area received 150% of normal rainfall and some states received more than double their average rainfall.

Ø Individual storms dumped large volumes of precipitation that could not be accommodated by local streams.

Ø The ground was saturated due to cooler than normal conditions during the previous year which means less evaporation so rainfall was absorbed by soils and more ran-off into streams.

Ø The draining of riverine wetlands and the construction of levees had altered the river system over the previous century.

The Mississippi river is divided into two parts. The Upper Mississippi runs from its source to Thebes, southern Illinois, where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi. The Lower Mississippi runs downstream from Thebes to the Gulf of Mexico. Flooding was confined to the Upper Mississippi because the river channel widens considerably south of Thebes, and the Lower Mississippi...

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.... The flood of 1927 in Mississippi caused over 200 hundred lives to be taken something that could be compared to an ELDC. The U.S. were prepared for a possible flooding of the Mississippi river which helped save many lives in 1993 even though most of the levees were destroyed they acted fast to prevent it. Preparation, which is what the LEDC's are poor at achieving.

Since the first levee was built on the Mississippi in 1718, engineers have been channeling the river to protect farmlands and towns from floodwaters. But the question is whether the levees, damns and diversion channels actually aggravated the flooding. There are two schools of thought. One supports accepting that rivers are apart of a complex ecological balance and that flooding should be allowed as a natural event. The other argues for better defenses and a more effective control against rivers.
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