In February’s River Citizen newsletter we started a discussion about the importance of wetlands to the health of the Mississippi River. The health and safety of the people, wildlife, land and water are more dependent on wetlands than most of us realize. That’s right, wetlands help keep us safe.
We have all seen the effects of extreme weather. Monstrous floods have taken lives and left unseen scars on survivors. During the Great Flood of 1927, water topped 56.2 foot levees on New Year’s Day, a record that remains to this day. Water broke levees in 145 places at a speed twice as fast as the water falling over Niagara Falls. Watch this short video that combines historical footage with music to make the tragedy tangible.
More recent devastating floods took place in 1993 and 2008, but the hardship, loss and unbelievable scenes in the pictures could be from any year. Sometimes the power of Mother Nature is unavoidable and irreconcilable, but it is worse when we “poke the bear.” Wetlands are an integral part of a healthy river system, for both the land and the people who live on it. One acre of wetland can absorb between 1 and 1 ½ million gallons of water. They provide an important service and should be considered just as valuable to the community as levees or dikes.
Unfortunately, only 10% of the Mississippi River’s floodplains and wetlands still exist. We must protect these areas or we will certainly feel the pain from losing them when the next big storm arrives. Help us prevent the destruction of currently threatened wetlands by writing the Governor of Missouri or signing a petition to President Obama.
1 Mississippi Outreach Coordinator
The Answer to the Mississippi River Trivia Question:
How many gallons of floodwater can be stored in one acre of wetland?
a. 1, 000 gallons
b. 10, 000 gallons
c. 100, 000 gallons
d. 1,000,000 gallons