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Monday, January 29, 2018

The 1937 Flood:

re-posted from January 2015
In January 1937, John and Kizzie lived near Walnut Grove and East Prairie (Missouri). During that winter, there was severe flooding on the Tennessee and Kentucky side of the Mississippi. As the flooding got worse, officials decided that the third dike would be dynamited to save East Prairie. Blowing the dike would also relieve flooding on the other side of the river. At the time, the family lived in a "stilt" house on the River Plain (spillway), so Kizzie and most of the family loaded up and headed for Tennessee.1 2
Even as they left, the water was floorboard high on the truck they were riding in. Bertha and Red remained with Dad and moved everything they could up into the loft.
Most of the families in the flood plain temporarily moved into east Prairie - but Dad, Bertha, and Red loaded up the Model T, and along with Alf Ball and his two wagons and eight mules moved into a two-story house with _____(?) for 3-4 weeks during the flooding. The water was so high that it almost reached the second story. Local whiskey makers stayed in business by moving their stills into their lofts.
Whiskey was obtained by floating up to the lofts.
After the water had receded, the family returned to the house, which had floated over a mile away. What was not moved out of the house or placed in the loft was lost. Unfortunately, the Family Bible was in some boxes (or a trunk) lost to the flood. Evidently, Kizzie tried to record all the family information into a new Bible from memory at a later date. But much of that information has proven unreliable.
1 The Weekly Record, January 29, 1937, February 5, 1937: This was one of the countless floods that plague the Mississippi throughout history. There have been worst floods before and since, but this was the first to impact our family. The 1937 flood was particularly hard for the river spillway families as over 500 (1500-2000 people) families had to be evacuated. The fear was that the newly built levee would not hold in light of predictions that the river would crest at 1 foot higher than the devastating 1927 flood that broke the Dorena Levee. Over 20 feet of water flooded the spillway, and 23 WPA workers died in a spillway accident when their barge carrying 150 levee workers sank in the spillway. Families would again be forced out in May as flooding threatened the spillway farmers again. Flooding this time was imminent as the levees had not been repaired, but at least the area was not plagued by the snow, sleet, and freezing temperature that accompanied the January flood.
2 Onene Littrell-Curtis, Bertha Littrell-Thurman, Red Littrell, & JD Littrell gdl/1994
Newspaper clipping from the “Remember East Prairie When:” Facebook page.
also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_River_flood_of_1937
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