25 years later, metro residents look back at destructive, deadly Great Flood of 1993

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Twenty-five years ago this month, much of the metro was under water.

Mike Quirarte at Margaritas on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City says he still gets a little nervous every time it rains.

“I’m 5-foot-9, and this is the ’93 watermark,” Quirarte said as he pointed to a painted hashmark near the ceiling of the restaurant.

Quirarte and many others in the metro will never forget the Great Flood of 1993. That summer 25 years ago, tempers flared as thousands were chased from their homes by historic flooding with little or no warning.

Record rainfall led to the devastating flood. Streets became rivers. People fled their homes in waist-deep water with just the clothes on their backs.

FOX4 archive footage from the Great Flood of 1993

The Great Flood of 1993 is considered one of the most destructive in U.S. history with more than $15 billion in estimated damages.

Kenneth Kieser has penned several books on the flood, including "Missouri’s Great Flood of 1993." He filled sandbags in downtown Parkville that summer as other volunteers stacked sandbags in a seemingly futile effort to stem the rushing floodwaters from the Missouri River.

Just down the road in Riverside, the "Please Stop" gas station became an island, surrounded by floodwaters from the river.

“Fifty people died in that flood,” Kieser said. "At the time, we had no idea if there were bodies in the flood swimming past us. It was spooky.”

Nightmarish scenes played out in Hardin, Missouri. Rushing floodwaters forced hundreds of caskets and burial vaults into the floodplain.

“Some of them stayed upright and were easy to find,” Kieser said. “And two or three of them dumped over (and opened). Some of the bodies were never found.”