Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems           

Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Tiffany Lotz
Physical Geology
Fall 2009

Mississippi River Flood of 2008

Flooding is something many of us probably never think twice about.  Itís one of those ďitíll never happen to meĒ scenarios that most of us brush off as nothing to be concerned about.  Especially living in the desert-like climate that we do, floods are not at the forefront of our minds.  However, floods, flashfloods, and mudslides can wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims in just a momentís notice.

            In the summer of 2008, my hometown area of Good Hope, Illinois experienced one of the greatest floods of our history.  The rains continued for months and the local levees broke.  The levees were holding the Mississippi River in its banks and keeping it from flowing out into the nearby cities.  My town was far enough away to not experience too much damage, but other people werenít as lucky.

2008 Midwest Flood Recon 
Photo by Dr. J David Rogers

            Many people who lived in towns nearer to the river had to build their own levees around their homes out of sandbags in order to keep the water out.  Even still, many homes were completely ruined by water damage after the local levees failed and their makeshift levees werenít enough.

Residents of Gladstone, Illinois, work with the National Guard to create a makeshift levee. 
Photo by CNN

            Many roads were closed because flooding made them impossible to cross.  The roads connecting Keokuk, Iowa and Hamilton, Illinois had to be built up with tons and tons of dirt just to make them passable.
Photo by Jamie Steen

            Most of the flooding in my area was caused by rainfall that occurred to our north in Wisconsin.  Two heavy rainfalls filled the river with extra water that could not be contained by its banks. 

            More than nine levees were overtaken by the raging waters flooding through the Mississippi River.  People in Burlington, Iowa filled more than 1.5 million sandbags in the days just before the river crested.

            The Mississippi River is fed by many tributaries that lead into it.  It then drains off into the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans.  Some of the tributaries include the Ohio River and the Illinois River.

The river officially reached its flood stage in April 2008 and remained there for over a month.  Records indicate that this was the riverís highest stage since 1973.  It was a devastating occurrence, and many people will remember the effects of this flood for the rest of their lives.

Flooded ... workers examine the closed Memorial Bridge as water crosses it from the flooding Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. 
This is the bridge located in Quincy, Illinois after the local levee could no longer hold the surging waters of the flooded Mississippi River.

Photo by AFP,0.jpg&imgrefurl=,%2BIA%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1&ei=eHgLS6eUC8SXtgf53-3-Ag