Walking around the 1993 flood exhibit in St. Joseph’s Wyeth-Tootle Mansion takes me back to this sad time when property and life was literally washed away.

I can still close my eyes and relive those terrible days.

Floating in a boat over places I visited all my life was a surreal experience. No one in the police or fire department boats I floated in over a two-week period in 1993 hardly spoke while observing millions of dollars lost in property and product. Even worse, loss of life was likely, although at the time, we had no idea that 50 people actually died. Some bodies were lost, perhaps floating by in the ever-present frightening current.

I sandbagged in Parkville, Missouri, two days before the big waters came, with I’m told, about 1,000 other volunteers. We worked in lines passing bags that weighed about 36 pounds to be stacked layers high and deep. The bags were not completely filled, so they would form together, especially when wet. Full bags would have toppled over with the first push of flood water.

Many comments about the water never reaching the top of our stack was heard. No one really knew what was about to happen. We only knew that it was hot and sand on the outside of each bag mixed with sweat and had the same result as sandpaper on our forearms. The second day we wore long-sleeved shirts.

When the big water came everyone was shocked at the sheer volume that filled the Missouri River basin from bluff to bluff. The top layer of our sandbags in Parkville were at least six feet under water and maybe more. We had all witnessed flooding, but no one could imagine this deluge of Biblical proportions that would result in over 30 million dollars in damage.

I was on the board of directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and had conservation contacts in Washington D.C. They asked to film the flood damage and faxed me a letter to show officials. I spent the next two weeks filming this disaster for Congress.

I had copies made for Washington and kept the original slides. No one ever notified me to say if Congress actually did see my shots — I hope they did. I shot over 400 images of this disaster on Kodachrome 64 transparencies that have held their integrity to this day.

I most remember the silence during our floats. Flooded areas were deathly silent, adding to the depression of viewing familiar places ruined.

During our float we had no idea of the exact damage that amounted to more than 500 counties affected by this deluge and nine Midwestern states were declared disaster areas. Hundreds of secondary roads and a few major highways and airports would close. The Midwest had 17,000 square miles flooded and over 30,000 jobs were lost.

The flood damage in croplands would eventually drive up world food prices and the total damage caused by the great flood of 1993 would total over 20 billion dollars with at least 10,000 homes destroyed and 50-lives lost.

Railroad traffic in the Midwest stopped, resulting in over $300 million dollars in losses. Over 75 towns or cities were partly or completely flooded. St. Louis and adjacent towns received flood waters from both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

I volunteered to help clean up a couple of properties when the water receded. The stench in each building was beyond imagination. A combination of raw sewage, field mud, chemicals and who knows what made wearing a mask important to protect our lungs. We thankfully received free tetanus shots before entering each property.

I sat on the original transparencies almost 20 years before a longtime friend and publisher, Mike Bushnell, owner of Northeast Publishing, Kansas City, decided a book should be written. We used many of my photos, and I wrote about the Missouri River flood from north of Mound City, Missouri, to St. Louis in my book, “Missouri’s Great Flood of ‘93 - Revisiting an Epic Natural Disaster.” I wrote this book so future generations will remember.

My book won a national writing award from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers and has been written about or quoted numerous times.

The St. Joseph Museum decided to build a 1993 flood exhibit, based partly on my book. You can see this display at the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, but call (800) 530-8866 before you go. They are only open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. I think they will open other days for pre-arranged group tours.

I love the St. Joseph Museum’s exhibit because it is retelling important history from our area. We learned from the 1993 deluge and will know better what to do if this ever happens again.

Since the first of this year I have been interviewed on two PBS specials about the 1993 flood. I will be on several radio shows this month. I am available to speak to groups of this subject for the price of purchasing several of my books. I have done speeches all over Missouri in 2018.

Finally, I will be part of a 25-year flood event at Red-X in Riverside, Missouri, from 1-5 p.m. on July 28. Other historians will join me to answer questions, and I will be doing a book signing. We will have drawings for prizes and hopefully some other surprises.

However, if you want a historic signed copy of my book before then, you can order one at Kenneth L. Kieser, P.O. Box 901414, Kansas City, MO. 65764. Hard copies are $33 and soft copies are $22. The prices include postage and handling.

Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at kieserkenneth@gmail.com.