Extreme flooding hits the midwest

Olivia Doak

Devastating floods hit many states in the Midwest throughout the last few weeks. Their impact was widely felt, including within the Augustana community.
With the Mississippi River so close to home, flooding is a real threat that can impact our lives at any time. “For some Augustana students that have never dealt with flooding, I don’t think they realize how severe and terrible it can be,” senior Sierra Rood said.
Rood is from Lena, Illinois where high water levels in the Pecatonica River caused flooding in her dad’s construction business. She went home last week to help and be there for her family.
“It hasn’t ever been this high before,” Rood said. “It was four and a half feet above the normal range of the height of the river.” She said that the last time it flooded, it took her dad a month to recover and the water didn’t even enter the building.
“The community has definitely come together, but it’s taken a toll on the people that have been affected,” Rood said. They have no idea how long it will take for the water to be completely gone.
Other states impacted include Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin, but the hardest hit was Nebraska. Associate professor of biology, Dr. Tierney Brosius, is from Pierce, Nebraska and describes the magnitude of these floods in her home state.
“My family has lived on this property for 100 years, and they’ve never seen anything like this,” Brosius said. “It’s a once in a lifetime or once in two lifetimes type of flooding. It looks like they shut down the whole state.”
Nebraska has the highest number of waterways in the country, and as a result nearly the entire state had closed roads and declared a state of emergency. Fortunately, the property Brosius’s family owns was spared, but by only a few inches.
There are a few factors that caused such widespread and intense flooding. Professor Reuben Heine is a geography professor and did his dissertation on flooding and hydrology. He explained that the bomb cyclone that hit the Midwest brought a lot of rain and snow on top of a snow packed, frozen ground. The frozen ground doesn’t allow the water to be absorbed, meaning there was a lot of runoff that fed into larger rivers and caused these devastating floods.
“41 different sites across the Midwest have now broken long time flood records,” Heine said. “It’s quite rare to see floods of this magnitude in these areas. These are unprecedented levels.”
“I think people forget how powerful water is,” Brosius said. “It’s terrifying, and some people have lost their lives. It has led to major issues with people losing their homes and caused so much damage.”
Within communities, steps are being taken to help those affected by the floods. For one, many homeless shelters were opened for those that had to evacuate. Volunteers and neighbors are helping with cleanup and with providing help in any way they can for those that need it.
Brosius said that she sees people in her community reaching out and coming together to help one another. “As much as people tend to fight over things, times of crisis like this can really brings out the best in people,” Brosius said. She is hopeful for the future and the ability of people to overcome the adversity the floods present.