Thursday, March 19, 2015

Flood of 1950

If you live along the rivers in western Kentucky, you soon learn to expect flooding. It doesn't happen every year, but often enough that you pay attention to the river levels when heavy rains follow the melting of large amounts of snow - a sure formula for flooding. 

That's what happened in 1950. Heavy rains followed snow in December 1949 and, by mid-January 1950, the rivers had reached flood stage. The Evansville Courier of 13 January 1950 reported that several families in Livingston County were forced to evacuate their homes and the flood waters had begun invading the business district of Smithland. Most of the businesses of Smithland had closed due to the high water. The Methodist church was dispensing groceries and supplies to evacuees.

Eddyville and Kuttawa, in Lyon County, were also flooded.  The Cumberland River at Eddyville reported that water was near the ceilings of some business houses and one brick building had collapsed from pressure.  Schools in Eddyville and Kuttawa were closed.

Sturgis, Union County  appeared to be the hardest hit of western Kentucky communities. The Tradewater River, from which Sturgis drew its drinking water, had backed up. Backwater from the Tradewater as well as from the Ohio River and creeks and streams was rising and threatening to flood much of Sturgis. One hundred families or more in the south and east sides of Sturgis had been evacuated and were being housed in churches, vacant houses and buildings at the old airport.

Western Kentucky wasn't the only area experiencing flooding.  The little town of Rosiclare, Illinois, on the Ohio River, was under water and 80 families had moved to higher ground.  In Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois, flooding extended along a 200 mile expanse and it was feared that there would be a crack in the giant levee protecting the city.

The Red Cross estimated 5000 people were made homeless in the flood area of the Ohio River and its tributaries. While the flood of 1950 didn't cause nearly as much damage as the flood of 1937, it was destructive and proved once again that man often fights a losing battle against Mother Nature.

Published 19 March 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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