Great Flood of ’27

Today in History, April 15: 1927 – “”The roaring Mississippi River, bank and levee full from St. Louis to New Orleans, is believed to be on its mightiest rampage…All along the Mississippi considerable fear is felt over the prospects for the greatest flood in history.” –The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The rains had been pouring down almost continuously across the Mississippi River Valley (yes that includes Oklahoma) for almost a year. On this day in 1927 the rains increased. Rivers all over the mid-west, already swollen past capacity, emptied into the Mississippi River. Soon the levies began to break all along the river, inundating the rich farmland on either side of the river’s normal course. Over 27,000 square miles were covered in 30 feet of water, a stretch at points 90 miles wide. To draw a comparison, Oklahoma covers nearly 70,000 sq. miles…so picture, if you can, everything in Oklahoma east of I-35 under 30 feet of water. Only 250 people lost their lives, a miracle considering that nearly 1,000,000 people lived in the affected region. It was the worst river flood in American history; and still is.

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