The 1937 Flood

The 1937 Flood

The Great Ohio Flood of 1937 ranks among Time Magazine’s Top 10 Historic U.S. Floods.

The 1937 flood remains the flood of record for many locations along the Ohio River, leaving an estimated 350 dead and nearly 1 Million homeless.
The entire river was in flood, with record flooding from Point Pleasant, WV down to the Ohio’s confluence with the Mississippi at Cairo, IL. (source: NWS)


This photo is taken at 2nd and Center Streets during the 1937 Flood

This photo taken in 2017 shows the same perspective in downtown Ironton 80 years later








Nellie Grace Herald sat on a couch in one of the big houses on Fifth Street with a dog by her side and watched the river rule.
A private duty nurse caring for Nellie Marting Lowery, widow of Dr. Andrew Lowery, Herald writes to her family on January 24, 1937, three days before the mighty Ohio crests in what historians call the greatest – and worst – flood to ravage the Ohio River Valley.

For 11 days the 1937 Flood paralyzed communities among its path.

“Things look terrible to me,” Herald writes. “Everyone says it’s as bad as the 1913 flood. We get the news over the radio every hour. The water is still raising. I sure do hope it will stop soon. The water is up at the corner of 5th Street in front of us. They said last night just the top of Dr. Hunter’s house could be seen.”

For 20 days, starting January 5, the rains came, drenching the river with a total of 12 inches of water. That, added to December snows, sent the Ohio into a tailspin, sending in 19 feet above flood stage. But those facts interest only historians as decades later they put together their accounts. What mattered to Herald was when would the fierce waters retreat. Until then, for her and those around her, days meant discomfort, fear, fights for survival and much prayer. Read the rest of the story HERE.

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