2008 Mississippi River Floodstage, by Erwin A. Thompson (& Janet Riehl)…floodstage series continues

The folks around here have been nervous, not knowing. It is hard to realize, but we do not have a tenant that was here during the 1993 flood. Of course the predicted crests are never guaranteed. The predicted crest has been changed upward several times this year, and no doubt would have been higher except for the levee breaks upriver. But at no time did they predict a higher crest than in 1973, which left us almost untouched except for the inconvenience.

I have been relatively relaxed, having experienced the worst and survived. I have attempted to communicate the historical facts to the people who asked. It seemed to help.

We opened Riehl Lane weeks ago and folks have used this as a life line of a back door
. The feeder route to this up the hill from the River Road is the Old Gate Road. While its role in the 2008 floodstage isn’t as dramatic as in earlier floods, it’s allowed folks to go on with their regular lives, to get out, to go to work, to make the money they need to survive. It’s been life saving in an ordinary way.

People have been dodging and weaving to get in and out from down below as Stanka Lane has threatened, the River Road between Clifton and Stanka closed, then the stretch between Stanka Lane and Lock Haven. The access road to Thompson Drive had six inches of water on it, but it’s still been usable.

The river overflowed its banks….this, despite being bled down to all time lows earlier in the Spring, anticipating just this swelling of the waters. Even in the 1973 flood it went over the guard rails. We could ride in a Duke Cummines’ boat over them. 1993, of course, was much worse.

This year it didn’t reach that far, but it did overflow its banks onto the River Road, bringing debris with it. It did fill up the reservoir between the River Road and the access road on our property. It did make it possible for folks to fish right outside their windows. That’s what Sam says he’ll miss the most, as he boasted some of the size of his catfish catch.

The pleasure boat parked outside the old O’Flaherty House was on a trailer, but looks as if it is floating. The water rose on both sides, and then overflowed and rose over the access road.

We kept hearing reports that the water would crest on Saturday …the water would crest Next Sunday,….and so forth. Finally, the water has crested and now the waters are receding, leaving us all heaving a sigh of relief, because we now know the end of the story.

The most inconvenient incident was one of our tenants in the west Bottom woke me up the other morning because he was stuck on the hill. It had rained a small shower the night before and he had just had a flat and put a bald spare on his rear wheel. He needed to get to work.

This is all part of the package. I lost count of the people that I pulled out in ’93 who got stuck just being parked here on top of the hill. The cars sunk down in the soft earth.

We are now facing the end that can be dealt with …. demanding only some basic clean-up, but nothing major. We have done it before.

No, nothing major lost. Not this time.

The present flood looked scary for awhile, but in this area it did not approach even the 1973 level. Other areas were severely devastated. In a sense we profited from their misfortune, for clearly if the water had not breached the levees upstream we would have had more flood water to cope with.

We offer our sympathy. We have been there.

Erwin A. Thompson

Evergreen Heights

Jersey County, Illinois

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