CHICAGO (CBS) — The devastating flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey brought back memories for former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, who led the state through the Great Flood of 1993 along the Mississippi River.
“I’ve thought a lot about that the last few days when I watched those floods, and remembered what I learned then, which a lot of people don’t appreciate how devastating a flood is. I mean, once you get water in your house, your house is never the same,” Edgar said.
Flooding along the Mississippi River in 1993 caused up to $15 billion in damage all the way from North Dakota to Missouri, after hundreds of levees failed along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, according to the National Weather Service.
The Great Flood was crippling to Illinois farmers, and Edgar said it puts the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in perspective.
“You think of the thousands of people in Houston, like the thousands of people of Illinois back in ’93, and many of them don’t have flood insurance. I mean, I don’t know what they’re going to do. They are in a very, very difficult situation; and it just lingers,” he said.
If there’s a silver lining, Edgar said it’s that people reach out to help each other; something else he learned in 1993.
“I’ve watched people begin to try to do things to help the flood victims in Houston; reminds me of people back in the 90s helping the people in downstate Illinois, particularly people from the Chicago area,” he said.
The Illinois Farm Bureau has mobilized to help farmers and ranchers in Texas.
Many Illinois cities, towns, villages, school districts, charity organizations, and other groups also have organized drives to collect donations of water, toiletries, blankets, and other supplies for flood victims. Several animal shelters also have sent volunteers to the Houston area to help shelters that have been overwhelmed with homeless pets.
Edgar said, when the chips are down, Americans come through for each other.