It was Jud Kneuvan’s first year with the Army Corps of Engineers when the record-setting flood waters set in. Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with the Kansas City District’s Chief of Emergency Management:
Kneuvan was at the very beginning of his career when the record flooding inundated nine state across the Midwest. He said he was excited at first, but the disaster then made him realize how natural events could affect peoples’ lives. He spent the first month of the flood fight running a pumping operation at Kansas City’s downtown airport. “I got to see flooding first hand, and I got to see the concerns locally, and partial evacuations and that type of thing. And you really do understand that it affects peoples’ lives,” said Kneuvean.
The 1993 flooding was particularly significant because almost every levee system that participated in the Corp’s rehabilitation and inspection program received some type of damage. It was the first time federal levee systems overtop along the lower Missouri River since they were constructed in the 1950s. “So it was a major catastrophic event,” said Kneuvean, “It’s been the only time in my career, and I hope that it is the only time in my career, that I’ve ever seen the lower Missouri River basin full of water from bluff to bluff.”
Since the floodwater receded 20 years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers has changed the way they communicated with the public. “We’re starting to identify that there’s always a risk associated with working and living behind levee systems. We try to reinforce the message that levee systems don’t provide complete protection. That there’s always a residual risk. And just because you saw the 1993 flood event and what it can do to you…things could always be worse,” said Kneuvean.
Many of the preparations for flooding stay the same. Kneuvan says the Corps still begins in early January, and continues until the flooding season ends in mid-July.
KMZU News will be airing special coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Great Flood of 1993 throughout the month of July. Listen in every Monday to hear these stories.