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June 19th, 2008
06:46 PM ET

The river reached up and swallowed a community

[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"]

Karin Matz
CNN Producer

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.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Severe Weather
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. michelle: Ont,Canada

    It's unbelievable how water can cause such damage an not to mentio the snowball efect of the surronding states that have virtually been washed away .The poor peole have suffered so much and I pray that they get the much needed relief from FEMA and not have to through what the Katrina victims have been giong through and still going through ! Thanks to Anderson for his continung "keeping them all honest!

    June 20, 2008 at 9:57 am |
  2. Bobby A

    This leads to another story that has not been touched on, 90% of these folks do not have flood insurance. I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, maybe this will wake up the nation that we all have something no matter where we live, hurricanes, tornados, wild fires, east and west, earthquakes. The need for an all Peril Insurance system for the entire country is greatly needed, it unlike Health Insurance, can be affordable for the entire nation by everyone just paying their part.
    Please address this or get Anderson to address it, please contact Gene Taylor, Congressman from Mississippi for all the details.
    God bless all the flooding victims, what a tradgedy.
    Thank You.

    June 20, 2008 at 9:42 am |
  3. Richard Mason

    Since most visitors to St. Louis probably are familiar with teh St. Louis Arch, I suggest your film footage would be more effective if aerial views depicted the river relative to the Arches.

    June 20, 2008 at 2:23 am |
  4. gary hern

    The Mississippi Valley region has and will always be natures water-
    way. No mater what kind of storm, blizzard, toranado, lighting, or in-
    sect infestation the mighty Mississippi carries the remains down to
    the delta with all regions connected together sharring in it's best and
    worst. Our hearts go out to all the families affected most by this most
    current tragedy. Remembering Mark Twain's Hannibal and seeing parts of her under water lets you see how often this city has survived.

    June 20, 2008 at 2:11 am |
  5. Carrie...West Central Mo

    I appreciate your work but your story left me with more questions than answers lucky for me I just recd a huge story from another network that provided so much info and then some. Try more photos, more info, more, more. I want details. I want one stop news.
    God Bless everyone.

    June 19, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  6. Franky

    You know what surprises me??? The fact that not only it affected one state(Iowa) but also the surrounding states(Illinois and Missouri). Is pretty unusual to see it go from one place to another just like that! Is like watching a train just move. And how crazy it is that it is right there on the riverr......that's just odd.

    June 19, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    My in-laws have stories handed down in their family that are about how they lost everything in another big flood of the Mississippi in the late 1920s. Their home was situated pretty close to the river so the damage they got was remarkable and they didn't bother with trying to salvage what was not salvageable – they moved on to another state and got a home well away from any water. Watching the news coverage of the floods this year I wonder if these floods will be equal to that flood in the 1920s that was termed the Great Flood up until now.

    I hope these people can recover from this and don't have to go through the frustrations with FEMA and the government that Katrina victims had to face.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 19, 2008 at 9:44 pm |
  8. Cindy

    Karin,
    I bet seeing the flooding and destruction that it has caused from above was breath taking. Seeing it from the ground I bet you could only see for so far and that is it but when you were above you could see forever it would seem and that must have really opened your eyes to the reality of what happened. I bet it really was a sight to see

    The water going for ever and the houses submerged with everything lost must have really been sad to see. My prayers go out to these people who have lost everything. I hope that what they are saying is true and that the water is cresting and will soon subside so that these people can try to get their lives back.

    Cindy...Ga.

    June 19, 2008 at 7:16 pm |