The Missouri River was formed thousands of years ago near Three Forks, Montana. Since then it has become the longest river in the United States. Some of it's major tributaries are the Jefferson, Gallatin, Madison, Platte, and Milk River. It runs through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. The Missouri River drains an area of about 529,000 square miles. Since 1944 a series of dams and locks have been built to regulate irrigation and flooding. After a journey of about 2,466 miles the Missouri River finally drains into the great Mississippi River.
The flood of '52 is the largest recorded flood in the history of the Missouri River. It lasted from April 12 to June 29. It caused over 100,000 local citizens to evacuate. The river ripped through levees and dikes on to farmland, towns, and communities. Yes, this flood devastated the entire area around the Missouri river from Sioux City, IA to Kansas City, MO. Eventually the flood got to a point where the mayor of St. Joseph, MO made a call that all bodily able men had to report to Rosecrans Field to work to make the levees taller. In Omaha, NE 4,000 troops were ordered in to make levees and dikes along the river.
Later 7,500 Red Cross troops would be sent in to make refugee
camps for the 100,000 evacuees living along the Missouri River.
Soon the entire area would be announced an official disaster area.
Now even more troops were sent in. At the crest of the flood the
Missouri River reached 31.5 feet. That is 14 .5 feet above flood
stage! Farmers were eventually forced to empty their stock yards
or else the cattle would all drown. Cities along the river looked
like ghost towns when the evacuation was complete. When the crest
was neared the Missouri River was 6 miles wide near St. Joseph.
Many sewers were ripped open from water pressure and erosion.
By this time during the flood, over 187,000 acres of land was
inundated. On one good side of the flood, the casualties were
at an extreme minimum.
Small water falls were formed over levees destroying many roads. This increased the danger of driving for evacuees. When the flood waters finally had gone back down the "Muddy Mo" left over 100,000 pounds of sand and silt on the land. This led to in economic boom for the farm industry in this area. The river was rerouted by the Corps of Engineers. This caused an argument over land ownership between Missouri and Kansas. The reason why is that the state border was always the Missouri River. By rerouting the Missouri River some land that was previously owned by Missouri was now on the other side of the river. Kansas eventually won this debate and kept the land. Let's just hope this kind of catastrophe doesn't occur again.
Flood of '52 Graphics