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Residents of Submerged Town Ponder Whether to Rebuild or Move on

July 17, 1993

WAYLAND, Mo. (AP) _ Candie Murphy would like to be home in her trailer in Alexandria, getting ready for the birth of her first baby in October.

Instead, she waited Friday at the fire department in nearby Wayland with dozens of other Alexandria residents applying for federal disaster aid.

Six miles away their hometown was buried like a heartland Atlantis under 12 feet of murky Mississippi River water.

″It ain’t fun, I tell you,″ Mrs. Murphy said, shaking her head.

A few townspeople have ventured into Alexandria - a boat ride over what was once fertile river bottom teeming with corn, soybeans and wheat. The town of 340 people is near the Iowa line in far northeastern Missouri.

On Friday, they passed around grim photographs of what they found.

Water nearly covered Loretta Brown’s trailer home - all but the TV antenna on the roof. The small metal barn where she kept horses collapsed and now floats in the front yard.

Her sister-in-law, Scherry Brown, was flooded out of her home along the Fox River, a tributary of the Mississippi, on June 23. The rest of the town was evacuated July 1 when the Mississippi demolished nearby levees.

″Try imagine losing everything you own and have collected over 20-30 years, like keepsakes from your folks,″ said Scherry Brown, who fled her home with three hogs, her dogs and a sack of clothes.

At the mention of lost heirlooms, Loretta Brown burst into tears. Her sister-in-law put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

Townsfolk fondly call Alexandria ″Alec,″ and praise it as a friendly, safe, quiet place to raise a family.

Alexandria lacks a traffic light, grocery store or school. But there are two churches, a tavern, post office, volunteer fire department, and a gas station and convenience store where folks gather for coffee and gossip.

″We don’t want to give up,″ said Mayor Bob Davis, a lifelong resident. ″We made the town a beautiful place, until this happened.″

Craig Hunziker and Jane Fox doubt they’ll be able to live in their farmhouse near Alexandria. It’s been in her family for more than a century.

Eight feet of water has stood in the home for more than two weeks, causing structural damage. Frogs and snakes moved in and the garage is under water.

″We’re thinking of taking the insurance money and going someplace else, finding higher ground to live on,″ said Hunziker, who also lost 250 acres of corn and soybeans in the flood.

But Mrs. Murphy, 23, wouldn’t consider raising her child anywhere else. She lived in Florida and Alabama for one year but missed her hometown.

Though her trailer has been torn apart by rushing water, she says she and her husband, Mark, will get a new one and start over.

″It’s just home,″ Mrs. Murphy said.


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