Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

HOW '93 FLOOD SHAPED LIVES AS WELL AS LAND LEGACIES: A TEST OF DEVOTION, A NEW GRIT, RECURRING ANGST Series: 1993 FLOOD AFTERMATH FIRST OF TWO PARTS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

HOW '93 FLOOD SHAPED LIVES AS WELL AS LAND LEGACIES: A TEST OF DEVOTION, A NEW GRIT, RECURRING ANGST Series: 1993 FLOOD AFTERMATH FIRST OF TWO PARTS

Article excerpt

The Flood of '93 is one of those events by which people reckon time.

Such events - like the stock market crash in '29, Grandpa and Grandma's marriage, or Mom and Dad's divorce - shape lives.

Last summer, the Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois rivers reached into the flood plains and forever changed the course of people's lives. Here are some of their stories:

Through 45 years of marriage and rearing 10 children, nothing had separated Bernard and Corrine Sievers. Even when Corrine, 65, became ill and had to go to a nursing home in Hardin several years ago, Bernard, 80, sold their farm near Meppen and bought a house in Hardin about 12 miles to the north so he could spend each day at her bedside.

"I never missed a day," he said.

Then came the flood of 1993.

As floodwater surged 4 inches deep in Bernard's living room, it closed down the Calhoun Care Center nursing home several blocks away. Patients were moved to other nursing homes in Illinois and Missouri, and Corrine landed at one in Jerseyville, about 20 miles east of Hardin.

"They treat her very good there, but I'd rather have her here," Bernard said.

Corrine's illness had its roots in a 1971 accident in which one of their sons, Daniel, was hit by a car as he got out of a school bus. Daniel was in a coma for six months before emerging with physical and mental disabilities.

The tragedy hit Corrine so hard that she slipped into a shell and never came out. She doesn't speak, but Bernard feeds her, talks to her and makes sure she has cool water to drink.

When she was in Hardin, he could walk down the street to her bedside and feed her all three meals each day. Now he can only be there for lunch.

He can't drive, so his children take turns driving him to Jerseyville.

"All I want is to live till she dies," he said, his eyes glistening. "If she does, living won't make any difference to me."

What if they rebuild the Hardin nursing home?

"If she's still living, I want her back here again. Maybe then I can feed her breakfast and supper, too."

Sue and Mike Healey think God tapped them on the shoulder during the Flood of '93.

"He was telling us to come home," Mike Healey said. "And he was pretty hard to ignore."

The couple live in a two-bedroom frame house on the river side of the railroad tracks in Winfield. About five years ago, they had stopped attending church for a common reason - distaste for the hypocrisy of a few.

But last July 31, the couple felt God's nudge. Sue Healey stood on the railroad tracks holding their granddaughter Danielle, 1. Mike, their daughter and son-in-law were in a small boat checking the damage to their home.

Sue Healey saw a black wall of thunderstorms headed down the river at her family. "At that moment, I knew how powerful the Lord was. And I knew he was working through the flood, telling us to get our priorities straight. …

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