The flood was the nation's major news story of 1993 (Figure 13-1) and one of the worst weather-related disasters in American history. Based on economic losses, it became the worst flood on record and rated as a once-in-500-year event on rivers draining thousands of square miles. The flood's physical dimensions were unusual in three respects: it occurred in summer when major Midwestern floods seldom occur; it covered an immense area (large parts of nine states); and it lasted a very long time (three months).