Valmeyer | St. Louis Public Radio

Valmeyer

A community chorus rehearses for a performance of "The Flood," a concert musical about the effect of the Great Flood of '93 on the village of Valmeyer. July, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A community chorus stood shoulder to shoulder, 30 members strong, on the sanctuary steps of St. John United Church of Christ in Valmeyer, Illinois, on a recent Monday evening. Sopranos, altos, baritones — their voices blended as one — rising and falling with lyrics inspired by the Great Flood of '93.

The words weigh heavily on those in the group who experienced firsthand the Valmeyer flood. They remember as if it were yesterday, that steamy, chaotic summer spent shoveling sand into thousands of bags and heaving them onto earthen levees that had protected their little town for half a century.

This time, the Mississippi River won.

A community chorus rehearses for a performance of "The Flood," a concert musical about the effect of the Great Flood of '93 on the village of Valmeyer. The chorus is comprised of Monroe County residents, including some Valmeyer residents who lost homes.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Let the river rise. Let the heavens fall.
Let the storm make soldiers of us all.

A community chorus stood shoulder to shoulder, 30 members strong, on the sanctuary steps of St. John United Church of Christ in Valmeyer, Illinois, on a recent Monday evening. Sopranos, altos, baritones — their voices blended as one — rising and falling with lyrics inspired by the Great Flood of '93.

The words weigh heavily on those in the group who experienced firsthand the Valmeyer flood. They remember as if it were yesterday, that steamy, chaotic summer spent shoveling sand into thousands of bags and heaving them onto earthen levees that had protected their little town for half a century.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

In the summer of 1993, flood waters from the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers broke levee after levee in the St. Louis region, covering large swathes of land, destroying property, disrupting lives and creating hazardous conditions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2013 - Twenty years after the Great Flood of ’93, Susan Schillinger remains firmly planted on the Mississippi River floodplain, still living in her repaired two-story white frame house, one of the remaining structures of "old town” Valmeyer.

Schillinger’s cheerful front porch, trimmed for summer in red geraniums and Fourth of July ribbons, was under water on Aug. 2, 1993, along with 95 percent of the village’s more than 350 homes, businesses and public buildings after a breached levee allowed the river to flow through.

Rock City development Valmeyer, Ill
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2013: Among the twists and turns that Valmeyer has taken since the Great Flood of ’93, the coolest -- as in 58 degrees year round -- is Rock City, a warehousing facility constructed in an old limestone quarry that the flood-ravaged village acquired during its quest to move to the bluffs.

A view of the floodplain from Valmeyer's Rock City development.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 1, 2013: Dennis Knobloch, then the mayor of Valmeyer, said he didn’t grasp the magnitude of the flooding that had engulfed his village in those first days of August 1993 until he and Monroe County officials surveyed the scene by helicopter.

"It was like flying over an ocean,’’ he said. "It was water from the Illinois bluff to the Missouri bluff, which is 4 miles apart here. It is hard to comprehend.’’

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2013: Most springs, nature sends a reminder to the residents of the St. Louis region that they live at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri, two major American rivers that have the potential to rise up and storm the levees.

Dennis Knobloch stands in the field where his house was before the flood of 1993.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2013: Lush, green soybeans now populate the plot of good earth where Dennis Knobloch’s house once stood on Main Street in Valmeyer, Ill. -- before the Mississippi River busted through a levee and swallowed the town whole during the Great Flood of ’93.