In the end, the Mississippi River wasn’t strong enough to overcome the love of dedicated staff members and volunteers who protected the Joseph Smith Historic Site from spring and summer floods.
Because of their sweat, dedication, and passion, no severe damage was done to historic properties in Nauvoo, Illinois. That’s not to say there wasn’t lots of worrying.
Apostle Lach Mackay, Community of Christ’s historic sites director, said the concerns began with March blizzards in the upper Midwest. The worry didn’t dissipate until the US Army Corps of Engineers said it was safe to remove flood-prevention structures in mid-July.
“For several months, heavy rain in the middle of the night meant getting up and starting the gasoline-powered pumps that supplement the electric pumping system for the Nauvoo House cellar,” Mackay said. “Once started, we had to put on life jackets and scale the levee to inspect the hoses and make sure they were not cutting through the plastic protecting the levee from erosion. We would also need to refuel the pumps as needed.”
The five pumps and plastic weren’t the only protective efforts. Workers used 125 tons of sand to fill hundreds of white, nylon bags and provide other protection.
Volunteers included members of the Community of Christ RV Association, World Conference delegates passing through Nauvoo on the way to Independence, Missouri, and 25 sister missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Combined, they raised the levee by two feet.
“We are extremely grateful for all of the help we received,” Mackay said.
The Forum, the Foundation newsletter, is an excellent source on continuing news, feature stories, and the impact of your donations on the preservation of church heritage. If you would like to receive The Forum, make a donation to the Community of Christ Historic Sites Foundation today!
Stay connected! Hear about the latest news, events, and behind-the-scenes stories from Community of Christ historic sites. For Foundation updates delivered right to your inbox, sign up here.