At 66, Karen Bair has always wanted to learn to swim. But she is afraid. She remembers the agony of gushing floodwaters 25 years ago, feeling, she said, as if her skin would be ripped off. Bair was one of thousands who suffered through what became known as the Great Flood of 1993, a summer-long stream of water that descended in buckets, killing over 50 people, 27 from Missouri. From May 16 to July 15 that year, it rained 40 out of 61 days. “It was as if God had carved a new Great Lake in the Heartland,” the Kansas City Star wrote in its special September 1993 edition, “Trial by Water.” And despite 25 years of flood prevention initiatives since, the bottom line is Mother Nature could still hurt us. “There is no such thing as absolute protection from a flood,” said Gerry Galloway, an expert in water resource management who led the White House study of the 1993 flood. “Floods can overtop levees; levees can fail.” Jud Kneuvean knows that “you’re always just a few rainfalls away from flooding.” “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” said the chief of emergency management with the Kansas City district of the Army Corps of Engineers. “There will be another 1993 flood event.” But experts also say the region will be better protected than ever before. Earlier this year, Congress approved an additional $17.4 billion in funding for levees and flood control — including $453 million for the Kansas City Levees project along the Kansas and Missouri rivers. “It’s a great story to celebrate as we commemorate the flood of ‘93,” said Tom Poer, president of the Missouri and Associated Rivers Coalition. “We’ve been making progress, moving things along, and boom, here comes this significant amount of money that is fully funding this project. It’s a huge win for KC and our community and will help lead toward economic growth.” The money will go toward heightening levees and flood walls and improving the water pump system along three levees on the Kansas River, among other efforts. 25 years and millions of dollars after the Great Flood, is Kansas City safer? That is a helluva lot of rain. I hope they can get it set up better than before.