Church Building

Speaking of the Amish and places once under the Mississippi, I once worked with a woman from Keithsburg, Illinois, which was under water during the flood of ’93.

Driving around Keithsburg even as late as ’97, you could still see water damage on some of the buildings that marked how high the water had been.

My co-worker’s story was pretty heartbreaking, how the Corps knew that the town was going to flood–the levee on the Mississippi couldn’t hold–and so they’d go around town spraypainting lines on telephone poles so that folks would know how high the water would come and move their stuff above it.

And, in a last ditch effort to save the town, they decided to blow the levee along the creek, which was backing up because the river was higher than the creek. They thought if they blew that levee, they could save some of the town, that the flooding wouldn’t be that bad.

The Corps called another meeting and said that everyone should go by the orange lines on the phone poles. And my co-worker said, “I don’t have an orange line.” And no one said anything. So, she said it again, “I don’t have an orange line.”

And then someone said quietly and as kindly as possible–not someone from the Corps, of course–“You don’t have a home.”

She said that, when the time came, they sounded the tornado sirens three times and then there was a wall of water and, for a long time, she thought they were wrong, that her house was fine, because she could still see her back porch. Then she realized that her back porch had broken off the house and was just floating around.

One of the churches in town was destroyed in the flood as well. And after the water receded, trucks full of Amish and Mennonite men came, no one knew from where, and they brought lumber and building supplies and built them a new church, up out of the reach of the water.

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