Floods are frightening acts of nature. Usually
occurring near a river, citizens of the area watch helplessly as the waters
begin to rise. They pray that the rains stop and the flow of water from the
Sometimes they get lucky and the flood is not too
damaging, but other times misfortune arrives as dams and levees break. Then
the penned up water surges through the weakened opening and disaster
While the 2011 Mississippi River flood may be the
worst to ever strike the United States, Deborah Kent tells the fearsome
story of the 1927 flood. The title of this excellent book is "The Great
Mississippi Flood of 1927."
The Mississippi River and its tributaries touch 31
states. Virtually all the rivers east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the
Appalachian Mountains flow into the Mississippi. This huge watershed usually
flows southward through New Orleans into the Gulf of Mexico. But in certain
years, due to heavy snowfall and rains, the "Father of Waters" overflows its
As people began settling the areas along the
river, a series of earthen walls called levees were built. These massive
structures were built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to exact
specifications. They were to be 30 feet high, 188 feet thick at the base,
and gradually sloping upward to an 8-foot wide plateau on the top. This size
of levee was the norm for the 1,100 miles from Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf
of Mexico. In 1926, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, General Edgar
Jadwin, confidently stated that this engineering feat could withstand any
flood the Mississippi could throw at the levee system.
Heavy rains fell in late 1926, and were followed
by deep snowfalls. By early spring the waters of the river began to rise.
The tons and tons of water began pressing against and stretching the river’s
levees. All along the river, workmen began to frantically build the levees
higher, only to watch more rain fall and see the river continue to rise.
Weak points in the levees began to leak, and everyone became terrified of a
crevasse, or break, in the levees. Orders were given to armed guardsmen
walking on the top of the levees to shoot anyone trying to damage the
In spite of all this heroic effort, the levees
broke in the state of Mississippi. This northern section of Mississippi,
called The Delta had large section swamped under many feet of water. The
city of New Orleans knew they were next. What should they do to save their
What answers did New Orleans arrive at? How did 39
tons of dynamite play a role in saving New Orleans? Who paid the price for
this salvation? Who were the winners and losers of the 1927 flood?
Is it really possible to channel a river as
immense as the Mississippi into a levee system? What have we learned in the
last 90 years about floods on the Mississippi River? To find out the answers
to these questions, go to the library and check out this well-written book
about the 1927 flood.
Deborah Kent has written a number of excellent
nonfiction books for children. This title is in the highly regarded
Cornerstones of Freedom series. The writing is very interesting and the
photographs draw readers into the power and awful terror of the Mississippi
River during a flood.
Having grown up on the banks of the Mississippi River, I can attest to
the immense havoc a flood can inflict on an area. This book would be quite
useful to students in the fourth through sixth grades in social studies
classes. Kent’s book was not enjoyable for me, but it was compelling