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When the Mississippi Flowed Backward



Tectonic events such as a 5.8 earthquake in California and a volcano eruption in Washington – riveted our attention. But they failed to match the New Madrid Quakes of Dec. 1811-Feb. 1812 that caused the mighty Mississippi River briefly to flow backward.

Consider the eyewitness deposition of Firmin La Roche, a French fur trader of St. Louis.

The frontier west of the Mississippi had been sold by France to the United States just eight years before the quake. Missouri was a territory, not yet a state.

LaRoche’s account – preserved in the Missouri Historical Review archives — was written in New Orleans Feb. 20, 1812, when after-shocks were still frequent. He had just completed a disastrous journey that started with three flat-boats:

Sound Like Thunder

“I was present at the earthquake which lately occurred above and below the mouth of the River Ohio, along both shores of the River Mississippi.

“I was taking three boats to New Orleans with some furs bought in St. Louis. On the evening of Dec. 15, we tied up eight miles north of New Madrid near the house of my cousin, John LeClerq.

“There were with me the Fr. Joseph of the Mission to the Osages, returning home to France — also Jaques Menier, Dominic Berges, Leon Sarpy, Henry Lamel, five other men and the Negro slave, Ben, who was killed at New Madrid.

“After we had supper, we went to sleep. I was awakened by a crash like thunder. The boat turned upon its side so that Lamel, who slept beside, was thrown on me. We fell against the side. It was very dark.

“We got away from the bank in about a half hour, and I looked at my watch. It was 3 o’clock. I could see trees on the shore falling down. Great masses of earth tumbled into the river.

“Lamel cut the rope that tied us to a log. In a moment, so great a wave come up the river that I never seen one like it at sea. It carried us back north, up-stream, for more than a mile. The water spread out upon the banks — covering three or four miles inland.

“It was a current going backward. Then this wave stopped, and slowly the river went right again.

“Everywhere there was noise like thunder. The ground was shaking the trees down. The air was thick with something like smoke. There was much lightning.

“We believed we must surely die. Fr. Joseph gave absolution. We did not see either of the other two boats. One of them we never saw again – nor do I know whether the men in them were drowned. We were all in great terror, expecting death.

“Trees were thrown down. People said great cracks in the soil – some very deep – stretched 10 or 15 miles. “We were told there is a new lake in Tennessee (Reelfoot) and the water courses there have been changed. The River Yazoo has a new mouth.

“I was in great pain with a broken arm. Of those who were with me, there is not but Father Joseph. My personal loss I make to be $600 (about $12,000 by today’s currency.)”

A Priest’s Recollection

In an appendage to La Rouche’s account, Father Joseph stated:

“I think there were two great shocks about half an hour apart and many small ones between and after. The water rose so that a tree on the bank — whose top must have been 30 feet above the river level — was covered all over.

“We saw two houses on fire on the left bank. When we came to New Madrid, there were homes also burning there.

“We tied up to the shore about dawn, and a hickory tree fell upon the boat – killing the negro, Ben, and breaking the left arm of the patron LaRouche.

“We made no effort to find out how many people had been killed, although it was told us that many were. We saw dead bodies of several. Afterwards we saw drowned persons floating in the river.

“The fur loads were thrown into the river by the people who crowded into the vessel with us until we could take no more.”

Another Account

Another eyewitness account (edited here for brevity) was deposed by Eliza Bryan, a New Madrid resident, four years after the event.

“On December 16, 1811, about 2 a.m., we were visited by a violent shock of an earthquake. It was accompanied by a very awful noise resembling loud but distant thunder, but more hoarse and vibration.

“This was followed in a few minutes by the complete saturation of the atmosphere with sulphurous vapor, causing total darkness.

“Truly horrible was the screams of the affrighted inhabitants running to and fro, not knowing where to go, of what to do – the cries of the fowls and beasts of every species – the cracking of trees falling — and the roaring of the Mississippi which was retrograde for a few minutes.

“Inhabitants fled in every direction, supposing that there was less danger at a distance than near the river.

“There were several, lighter shocks daily until the 23rd of January 1812. Then, one occurred as violent as the severest of the former ones.

“From this time until the 4th of February, the earth was in continual agitation – visibly waving as a gentle sea.

“On Feb. 7, about 4 a.m., a concussion took place so much more violent than those that had proceeded it, that it was denominated ‘the hard shock.’

“The awful darkness of the atmosphere saturated with sulphurous vapor, and the violence of the tempestuous thundering noise, formed a scene beyond imagination.

“At first, the Mississippi seemed to recede from its banks – its waters gathering up like a mountain. For a moment, many boats which were on their way to New Orleans were left on bare sand. The poor sailors made their escape from them.

“The river then rose 15 to 20 feet perpendicularly, and expanded. The banks overflowed with the retrograde current. Boats that had been left on sand now were torn from their moorings.

“The river falling as rapidly as it had risen, took with it whole groves of cottonwood trees. A great many fish were left on the banks.

“In all the hard shocks, the earth was horribly torn to pieces. Hundreds of acres were covered over by sand that issued from the fissures. In some places, there was a substance resembling coal.

“Lately it has been discovered that a lake (Reelfoot) was formed on the opposite side of the Mississippi in Indian country ( west Tennessee). It is upward of 100 miles in length, one to six miles wide, and depths of 10 to 50 feet.

“For eighteen months, we were constrained by the fear that our houses would fall from the continuing shocks and so lived in little, light camps. Some people fled, never to return, but most drifted back.”

Giant Earth Fault

The U.S. Geological Survey rates the three main quakes in the central Mississippi valley in the winter of 1811-12 as “the most powerful in U.S. history.”

There were no seismographs back then. However, the extent of land changes indicate three, closely related, quakes — magnitudes of 8 or more on the Richter seismograph scale of ten-fold points.

Most powerful quake of record is the Richter 8.4 for the Alaska quake of 1964.

USGS says, “Earthquakes in the central United States affect much larger areas than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the western U.S.

“The San Francisco, Calif., earthquake of 1906 (magnitude 7.8) was felt 350 miles away. The first New Madrid earthquake rang church bells in Boston, Mass., a thousand miles away.”

New Madrid in 1811 consisted of 400 log cabins. St. Louis and Memphis were small towns. “Should a category-8 quake occur there today, those cities would be mostly destroyed and thousands of people killed,” says U.S.G.S.

Last year, 470 measurable quakes were recorded in the Central Mississippi valley.

Warning by USGS: “The probability of a magnitude 6 to 7 earthquake occurring in the New Madrid seismic zone within the next 50 years is higher than 90 percent.”


Which is worst – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, forest fires, mud slides, volcanoes or earth quakes?

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How Do You Produce Original Articles?




By now, you understand the importance of originality in article writing. As a student, you’ve probably been informed of the consequences of plagiarism and how it is wrong to copy off of others without giving credit to the original author. But original article writing is different where you should refrain from using material already present in another article. This is so that your viewpoints can come across as authentic and so that you can establish credibility as an author. But how can you develop original viewpoints and information?

#1: Look For Inspirations, Both From Your Personal Life And Professional Life

Often the best viewpoints are those that are inspired by your own life experiences, whether they be personal or professional. To give a good example, I wrote an article about how heart and soul are important in a business’s success. My inspiration for that article came from helping my sister put together candy lei’s for my nephew’s birthday party. As I was putting the lei’s together, I felt a fullness inside my soul. That became my inspiration for writing about why success is more than just about sales and production.

Inspirations come from many places. You might look at a current article and want to expand on a certain point that someone touched on earlier. Something may happen to you that gives you something to write about. Sometimes, it may just come to you in the middle of the night. What is important is that you find that inspiration because it will help you produce original articles.

#2: Even If You Use An Already Taken Viewpoint, Your Explanation Of It Can Be Original

Often times, it’s not the viewpoints, but the explanation itself that may be of intrigue to the reader. For example, if you are writing about different aspects of search engine optimization, and you are writing about not buying backlinks, you could do more than offer a simple explanation of why this practice doesn’t work. You could tell a story about someone you know who was caught doing this or take some time and talk about what has happened to those who were caught. Even if it well accepted among the SEO community that purchasing backlinks is bad practice, readers would be intrigued to hear your story since it is your personal story about someone who did this practice and/or was caught for it.

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How Do You Leverage Customer Service?




Excellent customer service is a fundamental aspect of the daily operations of any company that wants to grow. Today, dissatisfied customers can use social media to vent their frustrations about a poor customer service experience.

A satisfied client will return and they’ll refer your business to family, friends and strangers alike. So it’s the duty of customer support agents to offer a positive customer experience.

An effective customer service system provides multiple channels for consumers to contact your business and get their needs met. Understanding your client base will help you know which of the following customer service channels you can leverage to create customer loyalty and grow your business.

1. Self-Service Knowledge Base

Some clients are comfortable getting their queries answered by searching through a self-service knowledge base. These clients want to have easy access to information and a quick answer to their questions. Having a well-organized knowledge base with rich descriptions, images, videos, and instructions makes sure they get their answers immediately. This channel is good for your company because it doesn’t need a lot of investment.

A knowledge base helps customers to access general information, but it may lack information that addresses unique situations. Keep information up to date as the business policies and procedures evolve. Regardless of these concerns, a well-conceived knowledge base makes sure your customer support staff have time to address customer concerns which the knowledge base can’t handle.

2. Social Media Support

Today, most businesses have a social media presence. And customers nowadays use a business’s social media account to get the product- and service-related information, to ask questions, and to complain. These accounts need a committed social media manager to address your customer’s concerns.

Customers use social media to complain about poor experiences they’ve had with a product or service. But you can turn this into a positive for both your business and your customers by addressing their issues with diplomacy and honesty. This will help them see you care about them and you’re willing to resolve their issues.

3. Live Chat Support

Live chat is the best choice for customers who want to speak to a person to resolve their issues; this is good for those clients who don’t want to use email. Based on your live chat hours of operation, a client can get immediate support even while they’re in the middle of making a purchase.

Research shows that 73% of clients who use live chat are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the experience. So this is an effective way to increase your sales.

For this system to work well, your live chat agents must have excellent communication skills and they should be able to handle multiple inquiries during peak periods. Also, you must provide your customers with an alternative channel when live chat isn’t available.

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How Do You Know If You’re Doing The RIGHT Thing?




Each of us, at some – point, wonders, if/ what, we are doing, and seek, is, actually, the RIGHT thing! This, usually, requires, a willingness, to give oneself, a check – up, from the neck – up, and examine, our motives/ motivations, and reasoning/ rationale, in an objective, introspective manner, and a truly, open – mind! Most people want to believe, they are doing so, but, it is normal, to, at – times, question our motives, and actions/ behavior! If/ when, we feel, confident, in our perspectives, etc. we become, more comfortable, and ready, willing, and able, to expand those, self – imposed, limitations, of our personal comfort zone! With, that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, what this means and represents, and why it matters!

1. Truthful; timely; time – tested: It never pays, or benefits you, to lie, to yourself! We benefit, when/ if, we proceed, in a truthful, realistic way, and are willing to recognize, both, our personal strengths, and weaknesses! One must learn to use areas of strength, while being ready, and willing, to address, every area of weakness, and/ or, potential weaknesses! Procrastination, is, almost, always, our enemy, so it is important to proceed, using, well – considered, timely actions, etc! The best scenario is, when, this approach, aligns, with taking advantage of time – tested, knowledge, experience, and expertise, to be, both, ready, and able, to gain the necessary degree of wisdom and judgment!

2. Humane; head/ heart; healing; honest: We benefit, when we are honest, with ourselves! We must, consistently, pursue, humane treatment, of ourselves, as we would consider, the way, we should treat others! It takes using the finest aspects of, both, our emotional, and logical components, to proceed, in a head/ heart balance! When, our priority, is, to maximize, our personal healing, and health, we benefit, significantly!

3. Integrity; insights; implications; ideas; imagination; innovate: Try, not to, lie – to – yourself, and maintain absolute integrity, even, when, another path, may be simpler! The insights, you gain, have significant implications, in, how, you proceed! It takes quality, relevant ideas, combined with a meaningful, well – considered, imagination, to make us feel, confident, when we innovate, as needed!

4. Needs; nerve: Know your needs, goals, perceptions, priorities, and personal reasons/ rationale, and, then, have the nerve, to take the actions, which provide you, with the finest options, and opportunities!

5. Good/ great; generate goodwill; growth: The better, you develop, your personal growth, and seek better – than good (but, demand, great/ excellence), the more, you will feel, good, about your decision – making abilities, and talents, and proceed, with finer, personal, goodwill!

If, you know, and feel comfortable, you will do the RIGHT thing, your life, will, generally, be less stressful, etc! Are you up to the tasks?

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