Friday, July 2, 2010

Flooding in Iowa

Today is the 52nd anniver-sary of the tragic 1958 Audubon County, Iowa floods. Nineteen people lost their lives. The entire west side of Exira was destroyed by the flood waters of the East Nishnabotna River and Troublesome Creek. One woman who survived by clinging to a tree was carried some 45 miles downriver to Griswold before she could be rescued.
My diary for July 2, 1958 reads: "It rained 4 inches last night (from 2 a.m.) and this morning. Several people dead and such damage in Audubon County." I didn't record how much rain fell in Audubon County, but memory says it was more than 10 inches in a matter of a few hours. Because it rained during the night, many people were unaware of the danger.
This picture was taken at my grandson Ki's graduation party at his home in Winterset in May. Left to right, my son, Preston Fleming, his wife, Shalea, his aunt Nancy Jensen Fleming with her son Eric and husband Chuck Fleming (Preston's uncle). Behind Chuck with back to camera, Preston's daughter, Deise and my other son, Doug Botkin.
I hadn't seen the Fleming side of Preston's family for quite some time, so it was nice to see them and catch up. Chuck's sister Pat and her husband, Frank Rose, were also there.
Nancy grew up on a farm near Exira. I think she said she was 13 at the time of the flood. The Jensen farm wasn't near the river so they weren't in danger, but of course, she knew most of the people affected by the tragedy.
It has been a very wet spring. Iowans are again facing floods. The levee protecting the Birdland neighborhood in Des Moines has developed a leak. The levee failed in the floods just two years ago, and in '93. (I've already blogged about our experience with the '93 floods when we lived in Valley Junction.) I feel sorry for the people going through it once again. Even if the levees hold, the uncertainty they are facing right now has to be extremely stressful.
Some people are complaining about 4th of July holiday plans having to be changed because of the high water at Saylorville Lake and Lake Red Rock. How insignificant that seems compared to the disastrous loss of lives and property 52 years ago near Exira, Iowa.

1 comment:

  1. At 2:09 a.m. I received this anonymous comment on this post from six years ago: "I lived in West Audubon then, and was 8 years old. We had to evacuate from our house. Next day, my parents said there was four inches of mud in our house." I appreciate this person's comment and memories. I can only imagine how scared, at age 8, he/she must have been that terrifying night.