[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/19/art.flood.jpg caption= "Photos taken from CNN Photojournalist Steve Coppin on Blackhawk Tour in the Quincy, IL area"]
Someone once told me the best way to get perspective in life is to try to see yourself from 1000 feet above ground.
That was particularly true this morning. I got a call at 7:30 am asking if I could be at the airport in Quincy, Illinois by 8 a.m. to go up in a Blackhawk helicopter to tour the flood zone. I said, "Sure."
I been driving along the Mississippi River the past few days seeing the flood damage at eye level, from Burlington, Iowa to Quincy. I've watched volunteers sand bag for hours, talked to police and seen homes and farms destroyed by the mammouth Mississipi. But I didn't really have perspective until today from the bird's eye view.
I and photojournalist Steve Coppin met up with members of the Illinois National Guard 1st Battalion 106 Aviation Regiment out of Decatur, IL. Five minutes later we were up in the UH60 Blackhawk...
We first headed north and saw the damage by the Myer, IL, levee break. At times I couldn't tell where the river ended and the flooding began. The region was so vast and under water. Then the chopper took a turn and headed south, past Quincy, IL. We saw Hannibal, Louisiana and Clarksville, MO, and the Sny Levee district. Not to be cliche, but there really was "water, water, everywhere." I saw drowning homes, income lost, massive damage.
The view from above put it all in perspective. Not one town or one person, but the Mighty Mississippi, winning in some places despite man's best efforts.
When we landed, the National Guard members said they'd seen a lot of seepage. but some said it looked worse in 1993 and said the water has begun dropping.
Mike McLaughlin, Adams County Chairman, said the water is expected to crest tonight: "The next 24 hours will be crucial."
We drove to Hannibal, Missouri, and saw the damage from the ground again, the homes and lives underwater. But now I understand the magnitude.
She is unpredictable, the Mississippi River. She is such a resource to our country, but can be so fierce. And from above, you can see why. So much water, so much power and sometimes no place to go but out. And when that happens, she can swallow entire communities.
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