The Missouri River Flood of 2011

And….A book is born

I live about five miles from the Missouri River. So, have any of you heard that the Missouri River is out of its banks? And has been for two or three months now.

Note the sign…normally it is standing on dry land…close to the river but definitely many feet away from the water.

You don’t hear much about it on the news but there are more homes underwater, more dollars in damage and vastly more land underwater than after Katrina….heard quite a bit about that one didn’t we???

It creeps high, climbing that sign inches everyday.

Anyway, I’m not affected directly because me and My Cowboy and our cows are on high ground. Phew.

Now just the little arch on top of the sign shows.

But it’s close and I’ve watched that water rise and rise and rise.

And a few days after this picture…the sign is completely underwater…or gone, no one is sure.

So, how does an author look at flood water

and NOT think of a book to write that includes a flood?

Trust me, this flood is the center of EVERY conversation in my hometown,

which has way too much of it’s land underwater.

I had to of course go majorly fictional. For one thing, these flood waters came up with tons of warning because they are caused by water coming from Montana through seven dams which had to be opened wider and wider. So we would see signs that say things like…we’ll be closed beginning next Tuesday due to flood water.

Really? You’ve got that much notice?

The two lanes in the bottom center of this picture are the Interstate–underwater. This one picture isn’t mine(I took the rest of them). I got it from a website of a neighbor who owns a plane and has been taking aerial pictures for months. You can go look at flood pictures for hours if you want.

Lee Valley

My fictional flood is different than the Missouri River flood of 2011.

It’s a flash flood. Sweeping away all in it’s path.

Including my heroine. Poor sweet girl.

Her family destroyed, their covered wagon and all possessions gone. Swept into the path of a man who has no idea what to do with the damsel in distress who has been dumped onto shore at his feet.

Thought I’d give you a glimpse into the fires that forge a book. So any flood questions? Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of my August release Out of Control.

Or click the cover to buy

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

37 thoughts on “The Missouri River Flood of 2011”

  1. I so enjoyed reading this blog today… I am so excited to read Out of control Mary. I first started reading little house on the prairie and I now read a lot of different books. I just love to read but yours always keep me coming back for more.. god bless and have a great day Mary

  2. I enjoyed reading this blog Out of Control sounds like it will be such a good read. Mary, you are such a gifted writer!

    I hope you have a fantastic day today.


  3. Hi Mary, that’s the great thing about being a writer. Everything that happens can be used in a story. This makes my children nervous. When one of my sons flunked math he was more worried about ending up in a book than getting grounded.

    Keep writing those great stories!

  4. I am really looking forward to reading this book! If I don’t win, I will definitely buy it! Ever book of yours I have read so far, I love it!! Please keep writing!!

  5. Would love the chance for this book , I have finished reading Montana Rose and The Husband Tree both in the last week , Loved them both and look forward to reading many more of your books , May God Bless you and I think its great the way you write your books with a lesson to be learned in each one !! Have a Blessed and Wonderful Day !!

  6. Mary, I’ve thought of you often this summer with the flooding out your way. They did a news clip about Decatur a few nights ago – showed the bridge which I’m sure you drive on all the time. The devastation is mind-boggling. I almost feel guilty we’re spared.

    But you’re looking at the silver lining in all this – and got inspired for a new book! How can you not be inspired? It’ll be a bestseller!

    So, so glad your dh is doing better, too!

  7. Hi Julie, I feel almost guilty to get a book idea from so much disaster. Although in fairness, I’ve done a flash flood before, long before the Missouri left it’s banks. Petticoat Ranch, my first book, began with an oncoming flood.

  8. Look at the FOURTH picture from the top. See those signs in the foreground? That’s a park. Usually where all that water is, out to the arched sign, is full of RVs and boats.
    My family does a LOT of boating on that river and this year NONE. So many people would come to that park every summer weekend. We have no idea what it’s going to look like when the flood water goes down.

  9. I am blessed that I have never lived in an area that is flooded. I have seen the waters after a storm run over the river edge but nothing like this.
    This books sounds like a great read.

  10. Hi Mary, I would LOVE to win this book! I have enjoyed every one of your books that I’ve read. So glad the flood is receding and they are lowering the releases gradually. My sister is starting to move things back into her house & my Mother-in-law is moving back into her apartment this weekend. I’m sure you will all be so glad when it’s all over, as will family & friends that have worried about them.

  11. Enjoyed reading this article. I don’t live where it floods much. We recently had a hugh fire in our forests here in Arizona that devasted a lot of the animals. I wonder with a flood what happens to the animals in it’s path.

  12. Amazing pictures, Mary. Why is it that things tend to happen in extremes. Here I am in the middle of heat wave in Texas where we are praying for rain every day to help protect our land from fire and just withering away. And you have so much water, things are getting destroyed. How about if I ship you some 100 degree weather to speed the evaporation of the flood water and you spray us with that extra water?

    Praying it recedes soon. And that your next book is as great as Out of Control. Read it a couple weeks ago and loved it! My favorite of yours so far.

  13. Great photos Mary and post! I have seen floods like this so I know how quick the water can come up. The little community I grew up in would have floods like this when we had a lot of rain. There was a power plant up above the community and when it rained a lot they would open their flood gates and it would flood part of the community that was close to the KY river. Most to the home that were close to the river would flood. My girlfriend father was a lock keeper and she would have to move out. I can remember back in the 70’s stepping off of her front porch into a boat. It was a strange time.

  14. The last awful flood was in 1951. After this they built this series of dams and dredged out the river so this would never happen again.
    But this spring, the people who control how much water flows out of those dams misjudged the amounto of rain and snow melt and didn’t let water out early enough, then the dams were overflowing…I guess.
    A lot of people are very angry about it…because it was completely preventable. There was something about a spawning sturgeon or a nesting bird, they were hoping to save, then of course they not only DIDN’T save the nests of those birds…because the water ws just to deep, but they destroyed thousands of human homes, too.
    And, after the flood waters rose, they found out the birds just moved to a nest on higher ground and was fine.
    Your tax dollars at work!!!

  15. I’ve only seen a flash flood one time in my life but it was really scary how fast it came up. My dad was fishing, standing on dry land and before he and the rest of us knew it he was fighting for his life. He lost his wallet in that flood and it was at a time when he couldn’t afford to lose what little money was in it. Your flood there is horrible. So much water. And no, you don’t hear anything about it on the news. Which is strange because the media usually jumps on things like this and drives the news into the ground.

    Hope that river goes down soon.

  16. When you’re near it the ROAR is amazing. The water looks fairly tranquil in these pictures but it is moving FAST.
    No one has any idea what will be left when the water recedes. The banks may be there or they may be utterly destroyed, the banks have been built up and it could only be fixed with billions of dollars of expense. Plus the Interstate Hwy, there are fears it may be so badly undermined it won’t be usable, and it’s such a major thoroughfare.
    The economic impact is staggering.

  17. Hi Mary, Sounds like you have a winner. Your pics are terrific and horrible at the same time.
    Where I live we could use some water, but not like that—extreme. We had our own flash flood a couple of weeks ago. A super cell rain cloud sat on top of Mt. Whitney for a short time and that caused major damage to the trail, then the campground at the road head, then down the creek to town. That overflowed into the irrigation ditches to the Rez. That ditch is about 20 feet from our back door. All night with the rain still coming down, my daughter would check the level of water every 20 minutes or so. It came up to about 5 feet from the cement in front of the back door. At full force, the muddy water and debris came over the top of two foot bridges. The LADWP finally diverted the water into another cnannel and our ditch went down to nothing the next day. But it was scary for one night.
    I wish you all the luck on this new story. You have a great imagination. And I hope your river goes down soon.

  18. It’s amazing what mother nature can do – good and bad. I too am glad that I don’t live where there is flooding but unfortunately it happens not to far from where I live. That’s what is so great about books – you get to read about very tramatic events while you are safe. Your book sounds wonderful!!

  19. Wow! What pictures….no can’t say as I’ve heard any news about the flood since the news first hit…guess your part of the country isn’t as important to our high up leaders…just like Joplin….what has anyone heard about that place lately. Do most people who live on the river have flood insurance knowing that this could happen? I doubt it: I live in earthquake country and guess what? I don’t have earthquake insurance….and I know that we are in for the big one.

  20. Amazing and scary pictures, Mary. I’ve been keeping up with the flooding in Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming. I couldn’t believe when I went to Wyoming for a visit all the flooding there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much water in the State and the rivers were huge and all white water.

    It’s irritating that the national news reports any weather irregularities in the East, but I had to hear about the flooding and disasters in the West by streaming a Billings, MT radio station through the computer.

    So sad in reality, but should make for a fascinating book!


  21. Never been near a flood, but sometimes the roads here end up underwater when it rains too hard too fast… I can not imagine what it is really like seeing the water rise like that… your book sounds great… thanks for sharing with us today!

  22. Will be praying for you and your neighbors.

    Hope that you remain safe.

    Best wishes on success of Out of Control.

  23. My husband and I went with some neighbors, including one who’s parents had to abandon their home as the flood waters rose. Their home is above water, but now it’s on a little island. The water didn’t get into their home but the roads were all covered.
    So we went to the water’s edge and it’s just WEIRD to see that road just go under water. Trees standing in water. Light poles. We just stared and stared. Listened to the roar.
    What a mess.

  24. Mary, just looking at those photos gives me a queasy feeling. My heart goes out to all those affected by this devastation. I wonder how the news decides what to cover? We saw a lot of coverage about the Mississippi flooding earlier this year, but haven’t heard much about the Missouri River flooding. I’m glad your community got plenty of warning, but there is not much way to prepare for the financial losses.
    I remember the Petticoat Ranch flood. It was fun to read.

  25. There is a nuclear reactor right on the river and for a few very TENSE days in June there was a lot of news about whether that was going underwater and the ramifications. But they managed to hold back the flood waters at a STAGGERING cost. Also the Omaha Airport has been fighting a battle all summer to stay above water, the news of the cost on that has been stunning, but local.
    I went to the RWA conference in NYC in June and we actually parked in the covered parking lot for MUCH more money because we were afraid we’d come home to find our car underwater. That’s how tense it was.

  26. I discovered your books early this year & have enjoyed reading many of them. I can’t wait for Out of Control to be released. Thanks for the excellent stories!

  27. Thank heaven you are on high ground. Flash floods are terrible things, but I think the long drawn out submersion of buildings, land, and infrastructure is much more destructive. It is much more intrusive and the recovery takes longer. Some fellow Red Cross volunteers that just came back from Minot were commenting on the fact that the waters there aren’t receding very fast and it will be a while before they do. There, like your area, it will be weeks if not months before people can get back to their homes and businesses and begin to clean up. The damage to farms and the land will be extensive. Then there are the roads and bridges that have been undercut and will have to be repaired or replaced. The number of domestic and wild animals that will not survive will probably be high.

    For many people there is no place to go. Shelters will have to stay open much longer than usual. Shelter life isn’t easy. There have been so many tornadoes and such widespread flooding this year that resources and volunteers have been stretched to the limit. Still, volunteering to help is much easier than having to deal with it at your home.

    Hope you manage to stay above water until it is finally gone. I’ll be looking for your “Flood” story.

  28. Wow, we didn’t know this was going on in the middle of our country. Thankful folks had a good amount of notice, but that doesn’t make the destruction any easier. Winning one of your books, Mary, would be a great thrill. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the contest.

  29. Mary, This flooding is so sad and because it happened here in the center of our country and was actually caused by our government, we hear very little of it. Not fair! But I am looking forward to your flood story.
    By the way, I loved ‘Out of Contol’ a winner as usual!

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