For many years, levee systems were built along rivers to hold back flood waters. They work very well…until they don’t. When a levee ruptures, the resulting flood is usually devastating. From June through August of 1993, the midwestern United States received an unusually large amount of rain…far more than normal. The rain led to severe flooding, particularly along the Illinois and Missouri shores. Then, on July 22, 1993, the levee holding back the flooding Mississippi River at Kaskaskia, Illinois, ruptured. The town’s people were forced to flee on barges. In all, more than 1,000 levees burst in late July, but, the incident at Kaskaskia was the most dramatic event of the flood. The town, which was virtually an island, was protected by a levee that the town attempted to shore up even after the bridge connecting the town to the riverside was wiped out by the rising river. At 9:48am, the levee broke, leaving the people of Kaskaskia with no escape route other than two Army Corp of Engineers barges. By 2pm, the entire town was underwater.
The rupture of the levee at Quincy, Illinois, left no way to cross the Mississippi River for 250 miles north of Saint Louis. In Grafton, Illinois, flood waters reached two stories high. Other towns fared somewhat better, but the flooding was bad everywhere. In Saint Genevieve, Missouri, the entire town turned out in a desperate attempt to raise the levee. Prisoners were even brought in to assist the effort. The river crested at a record 49 feet, just two feet below the improved levee. The flood inundated 1 million acres of prime farm land and wreaked havoc on the area’s economy. Miles of wheat fields were too saturated to harvest that season. In addition, the herbicides from the farms washed down the river and severely damaged fish farms in Louisiana. Many other people lost their jobs when barge traffic on the river was suspended for two months. The Mississippi flood of 1993 caused $18 billion in damages and killed 52 people.
Levees can save lives, but when levees fail…people die, and property is destroyed. Sometimes, there is some warning, but other times, the flood that was expected, brings with it an unexpected consequence. And I can’t think of a worse unexpected consequence, than having far more water inundate an area that the flood could possibly have brought in. That was the case in 1993, and especially the case in Kaskaskia, Illinois. No one was prepared for the massive amount of water, and for 52 people, there was no way of escape.
It seems as if the nations will never be satisfied until they have a new and stronger weapon that will easily destroy a massive amount of people in one shot. Wars are a part of life here on Earth, and will be until the end of time, so we might as well get used to that fact. World War I was not a different time when it comes to weapons of war, in fact on March 23, 1918 at 7:20am, an explosion took place in the Place de la Republique in Paris, and it hailed the first attack of a new German gun. The Pariskanone, Paris-Geschütz, or Paris gun, as it came to be known, was manufactured by Krupps. The Pariskanone was 210mm, with a 118-foot-long barrel. It could fire a shell an impressive distance of some 130,000 feet…25 miles into the air. Three of them fired on Paris that day from a gun site at CrÉpy-en-Laonnaise, a full 74 miles away. The city of Paris was reeling. Paris had withstood all earlier attempts at its destruction, including scattered bombings, but this would be different. It was first thought by the Paris Defense Service, that the city was being bombed, but soon they determined that it was actually being hit by artillery fire. It was a previously unimagined situation. I’m sure everyone wondered how the Germans could have made such a weapon.
Before the day was over, the shelling had killed 16 people and wounded 29 more. The Germans continued the shelling of that year in several phases between March 23 and August 9, 1918. Over that time, the gun caused a total of 260 deaths in Paris. It was a low number due to the fact that the residents of Paris quickly learned to avoid gathering in large groups during periods of shelling. With less people in each area, the casualties were limited substantially. Nevertheless, the weapon had a terrifying effect on the people and a horrific impact on property in the areas of the shelling. Almost all information about the Pariskanone, one of the most sophisticated weapons to emerge out of World War I, disappeared after the war ended. Later, the Nazis tried without success to reproduce the gun from the few pictures and diagrams that remained. Copies were deployed in 1940 against Britain across the English Channel, but failed to cause any significant damage….a good thing for the people of the Britain at that time. When I look at the pictures of the weapon, I am reminded of the old “Wild, Wild, West” show. There always seemed to be some strange new fangled weapon of destruction in use there too.
Bob’s Uncle Eddie is the fourth child of his Grandma Hein. He is Bob’s dad’s younger brother. Eddie is the kind of person you can always count on to help you if you need it. When my father-in-law was building his house, Eddie even took a vacation to come and help him work on it. Most people really don’t like working vacations, although many of us have taken them. I suppose that like many of us who have taken working vacations, Eddie wanted to help, and so was willing to sacrifice his own down time to make life easier for someone else. Really though, that is just how Eddie is. He has always been a hard worker, and has always been willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need…not just family. And Eddie is very handy too. He has done quite a bit of building on his own property, so he knows the ropes, and is a really good man to have on the job…especially since most of the help my father-in-law had was his kids, his son-in-law, Lynn, and his daughter-in-law…me. None of us had ever done much building, so we were kind of like the little kid trying to be a great assistant, and mostly getting in the way. Well, maybe not as bad as all that, but not the kind of real help my father-in-law really needed either.
Now, don’t get the idea that Eddie is all work and no play, because you would be wrong. Eddie has a great laugh, and he uses it often. He loves to joke around, and loves to tease his nieces and nephews. Bob was one who got to get in on that teasing whenever he was in Forsyth, Montana, where Eddie lives. Bob especially got teased as a teenager, because like most teenagers, he liked to have his hair long. Well, of course, his parents hated that, and his Uncle Eddie tried to be helpful, by offering to shave Bob’s head. He wouldn’t have really done it, and Bob knew that. They were just playing, but it’s hard not to cringe just a little…even if you knew they wouldn’t do it. I guess it’s a good thing for Bob, that his uncle liked him. Today is Eddie’s birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!