Flood of 1943

Photos of Main Street during 1943 Flood from LV Steinhoff's scrapbookThe river is still rising at Cape. The crest was pushed back a day. They’re predicting it will hit 42 feet on Friday and stay there for about a day before going down fairly quickly. That got me digging for one of Dad’s scrapbooks where he had posted photos from the Flood of 1943, when the river crested at 42.4 feet in May of that year.

Was 1943 flood higher than 1844 flood?

Photos of Main Street during 1943 Flood from LV Steinhoff's scrapbookMinutia is important in a small town. The December 8, 1943 Missourian had a fascinating debate about whether or not the Flood of 1943 beat out the Flood of 1844. The convoluted way it’s written signals to me that the reporter didn’t quite understand what he was writing about. Here is the account:

Some facts about high stages of the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, including determination that the May 1943 mark was higher than the 1844 flood have been established. There was some contention shortly after the 1943 record flood that the water did not set a new mark.

1943 was 9/100ths of a foot higher

Photos of Main Street during 1943 Flood from LV Steinhoff's scrapbook

City Engineer John R. Walther and T.E. Bliss, division engineer for the Frisco Railroad, went into the matter on a mathematical basis recently and came to the conclusion that the 1943 flood was 9/100ths foot higher than the flood crest of July 4, 1984.

The engineers determined tht the 1844 mark was actually 42.31 feet for Cape Girardeau and that the high mark for May 1943 was 42.4 feet, which was the U.S. Engineers’ record.

Went looking for nail

Photos of Main Street during 1943 Flood from LV Steinhoff's scrapbookMr. Walther and Mr. Bliss checked the actual height of both a mark and a nail in the former Houck building at Independence and Main streets, which have long indicated the previous high crest, and found them to both show the 1844 mark to have been 42.31 feet.

River gauge established

Photos of Main Street during 1943 Flood from LV Steinhoff's scrapbookThis was arrived at from the city datum, which was established officially long ago for the purpose of fixing levels. It is officially described as being 50 feet below the high water mark of 1844, government records state. They city river gauge later was established through city ordinance. The gauge’s zero is 7.75 feet above the city datum.

The mark for 1844 was commonly known for some years as 42.5 feet, but the engineers say this was an approximation and was not correct. Until a few years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had published the 1844 Cape Girardeau mark as 42.5. In more recent years, the government mark referred to in reports was the 1927 stage of 40.04 feet.

“This settles argument”

Photos of Main Street during 1943 Flood from LV Steinhoff's scrapbookThe engineers, when making the check on river marks, notched the 1943 peak for the water on an east wall of the Frisco passenger depot. The plan is to place a marker there, showing how high the record flood – set on May 27, 1943, actually was.

Referring to the engineering checks recently made by himself and Engineer Bliss, who also resides here, Engineer Walther said: “I believe this settles any argument about the 1943 stage of the river being a record.”

The Firestone building today

Main Street building that once housed Firestone 04-05-2010Well, not EXACTLY today: this photo was taken April 5, 2010. Even though the river is about at the same stage as it was in 1943, the floodwall is doing a good job of keeping Main Street dry.

Floodwall and downtown

Aerial Downtown Cape 04-17-2011This is the general area that flooded. Firestone was at the southwest corner of Main Street and Independence.


How Hot is Cape Girardeau?

It is PLENTY hot. Blast furnace hot. As hot as Texas was one summer I was there, and I use that as a gauge for hot.

I rented a bike in Dallas for a weekend ride, and the poor thing skittered from one pool of shade to another. It was so hot a highway work crew had to hang out in an air conditioned pickup until it was their turn to lean on the shovel. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

100 degrees on the porch

Mother’s got one of the most comfortable porches in the universe. It faces east and is shaded, so you can generally sit out there in the hottest weather without even turning on the ceiling fan. Today, though, the thermometer on the wall registered just barely under an even 100 degrees.

That’s not a cardinal on the left; it was a bluebird. I TOLD you it was hot.

1969 high temperature record broken

A new high temperature reading of 106 degrees at the airport topped the previous high of 103 set in 1969. The bank sign at William and Mount Auburn thought it was 107.

It doesn’t look like we’re going to get much relief soon. The weather gurus have issued an excessive heat advisory to run through Monday evening.

Low reading on Mount Auburn

The lowest reading was just up Mount Auburn road from the 107 degree reading. I didn’t feel any pool of cool air when I stepped outside to photograph the sign showing 103 degrees.

108 in Jackson

This bank sign coming into Jackson from Cape says it’s 108 degrees. The grass is so brown and dry that it crunches when you step on it. This is not going to be a good year for shooting off fireworks.

Getting ready for hell and brimstone

The highest reading I found was at the Lutheran Church near the corner of Kingshighway and Cape Rock Drive. Maybe the pastor is getting the congregants ready for a real hell ‘n’ brimstone sermon on Sunday when temperatures are supposed to drop to a mild 104 degrees.

You can’t have this much heat without some big storms coming in behind it. I wonder if we’ll have a replay of last year. The ground is so dry and hard that a heavy rain would probably run off fast.