Two months after July flooding filled the first floors of his church and home, pastor John Selleck of Orrick, Missouri, finally was removing the last of the water from the buildings. Almost everything in the lower levels—furniture, carpeting, wallboard, appliances, personal belongings—had been torn out and hauled away. The time for rebuilding had arrived.

Then it rained again, and 13 more inches of water poured into the church. The second round of flooding in September, though less severe, set recovery back by a month.

Tremendous toll

It could take another three months to return to normal church use. But almost every day, Selleck uncovers new damage from the water: cracked concrete, rusting pipes, mildewed books. One of his prime concerns is to replace the furnaces before winter arrives.

Like Selleck, Midwesterners are still discovering the effects and frustrations of the Midwest flood of the century (CT, Aug. 16, 1993, p. 53), which displaced more than 100,000 people and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage. Months after record-setting rains saturated the ground and sent everything from tiny creeks to the Mississippi River past flood stage, people are still mopping, cleaning, and rebuilding. For many, there is nothing to rebuild. Their task now is to wade through paperwork and wait for insurance companies and government agencies to decide the fate of their property and deliver checks.

Often neglected in press coverage of the floods has been its impact on rural areas. Crop yields could be down by as much as one-third this year. For some, this is the third year in a row of unseasonable weather, preceded by the economic disaster on farms in the 1980s.

“It all has taken a tremendous spiritual and emotional toll on people,” says ...

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