Last updated April 10, 2020

First COVID-19, now flooding- River towns struggling to make ends meet

United States
Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding along the Mississippi River

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, as well as increasing total precipitation in some regions, and this increases the risk of flooding. In the spring of 2019, there was severe flooding in the Mississippi River Valley and the Missouri River basin. This year, flood season coincides with the outbreak of COVID-19. 

Article Excerpt: COVID-19 containment efforts are about to clash with flood season. Both disasters require personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves. 

"We are currently facing a threat on two fronts," Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative Co-Chair Mayor Bob Gallagher said. "On one front we have the on-going coronavirus pandemic, and on the other we have the accelerating spring 2020 flood season."


The demand for personal protective gear is high and no one town or hosipital seems to have enough. "We're no different than every one nationally," East Saint Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III said. "There is a shortage and we are scrambling to find the things we need."


That means less money to buy personal protective equipment and provide for the overall health of his community. Mayor Eastern is part of a group of mayors up and down the Mississippi who are working together to gather the supplies they need to not only battle imminent flooding, but to also combat COVID-19. 

"The folks who might fight a flood would not need any protective equipment it is just a result of the virus," mayor Gallagher said.

Many flood fighting campaigns across the bi-state involve volunteers. The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative is hopeful that most people bring their own cloth masks and gloves when they arrive to help sandbag and do flood prep.