The Great Flood of 1993: Twenty years ago today

Flood of 1993

Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service,

The Mississippi River crested at Alton at an all-time high of 42.72 feet on August 1, 1993. The National Weather Service’s Web site on the Great Flood of 1993 states that “[T]he size and impact of the Great Flood of 1993 was unprecedented and has been considered the most costly and devastating flood to ravage the U.S. in modern history.”

Despite sandbagging efforts, downtown Alton was covered in water, and many buildings and houses had to be evacuated. The Red Cross and National Guard troops were on hand to help, and Anheuser-Busch donated cans of water in six packs with their logo on them.

There is also a more detailed National Disaster Survey Report (the PDF is 334 pages!) that includes photographs showing both the devastation caused by the river and the resilient spirit of the people who worked to save and rebuild their homes and communities. The report also covers the meteorological events that led up to the flood as well as recommendations for future improvements at the National Weather Service.

alton flooding 1993 bridge

Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service

In the Genealogy & Local History Library we have many books and binders with information on the Great Flood of 1993. Most have call numbers that start with 977.033 (some examples are IR 977.033 HIG, IR 977.033 UNI, and IR 977.033 YEA).

We also have several books about the flood for children. Flood!, call number E CAL, is a fictional account available at Alton Square Library.


The nonfiction book Flood : wrestling with the Mississippi, call number j363.3 LAU, is available at the Downtown and Alton Square Libraries.

flood book

Alton and surrounding areas dealt with flooding this year, but the water was still about eight feet lower than the flood of 1993. You can see 2013 photos provided to CNN by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau here: