ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The benefits of living near a major river are far-reaching, but so too are the problems it can bring.
The Mississippi River flows 2,320 miles from its source at Lake Itasca through the St. Louis area to the Gulf of Mexico making it the second-longest river in North America. The Missouri River is the longest. Many small rivers & creeks contribute to their immense volume flow rate.
The Mississippi River today drives a significant segment of the economy in the upper Midwest. Barges and their tows move approximately 175 million tons of freight each year on the upper Mississippi through a system of 29 locks and dams. It also provides recreation for boaters, canoeists, hunters, anglers, and birdwatchers along with other outdoor benefits.
The two highest Mississippi River crests in St. Louis have been recorded within the last 27 years. During the flood of 1993, the Mississippi River rose to its highest recorded level of 49.58 feet. That is nearly 20 feet above the flood stage. It stayed high for several months.
The National Weather Service says that 50 flood deaths occurred in 1993, and damages approached $15 billion. Hundreds of levees failed along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Transportation was severely impacted. Barge traffic on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers was stopped for nearly 2 months.
In 2019, the second-highest crest was recorded from June 8 to June 10 at 45.93 ft. That flood also lasted for several months devastating agriculture, roads, bridges, levees, dams, and infrastructure across many cities and towns. Very high water levels also snarled barge traffic along the Mississippi River. Officials are monitoring this year’s flood potential in our area, especially along the Mississippi River.