Friday, July 15, 2016

Channel Cat Tales: Flood of 1943

Channel Cat Tales:  Flood of 1943 as reported from the Vincennes Sun Commercial May 23, 1943

In Lawrence County the flood situation was appalling. The Associated Press reported that Lawrenceville’s water supply was polluted. Bridgeport and Sumner being served from the same wells, orders to boil all drinking water were issued to residents of the three communities. Backwaters from the breaks in the levee reached a depth of 12 feet and even deeper in some sections.

At Lake Lawrence, cabins on the west side of the lake were almost submerged by the flood waters. Rory Hudson and Charles Hruza made a trip to the lake in the latter’s boat to inspect Hudson’s cabin. They found only the roof above the water. Hudson had about $1500 worth of furniture in the water- filled house. Several of the houses were wrecked.  Hudson said he found his garage about a mile and a half away.

The water was up to the yard at the home of W. J.  Warner, about
3 miles north of Vincennes. This was one of the high places in the county. The house was on a high foundation and the Warner family was expected to remain high and dry for the duration of the flood. The house of W. A. Viets, however, was  underwater. Hudson reported that Capt. Hart and wife, who had a cabin at Lake Lawrence, spent Friday night in their cabin. He said when they arose, Saturday morning, their bed covering was wet from the water rising in their cabin.

He said at the forks of US 50 and the Lake Lawrence Road, they were greeted by a family who had sought refuge in their home. The occupants wanted to know how much higher the water was going to rise. It was already near the top of the windows. The trip back from the lake was made down the gravel road with the course directed by telephone poles projected above the inland lake back water. The water was placid and calm when they went over, but became rough when they returned.

It was reported that about 8000 feet of Baltimore and Ohio River railroad bed had been washed out between State Route 181 and the Lake Lawrence Road. Train service was suspended Friday night. Trains were being routed to Terre Haute and west over the Big Four Railroad to Paris and back to Lawrenceville.South of Lawrenceville a section of the Big Four Tracks out by Billett was reported washed out by the flood.

Kenneth Webster, Vincennes policeman, made the trip in one of the two Coast Guard boats from Evansville into Lawrence County Friday afternoon to rescue marooned families. He said several families were rescued but others were remaining in their homes taking the risk against the floodwaters. Webster said he and Capt. E.F. Baker of George Field rescued a fox which had sought refuge from the flood on the limb of a tree. The fox was presented to Chief of Police, Sherman Montgomery, a fox -chasing enthusiast, and Vincennes Director of a local flood work organization. At the home of E.E. Bishop they rescued an Angora cat who had been trapped under the floor of the porch. The water was up near the floor, and when the cat was rescued it was water soaked and almost drowned but soon revived. Webster reported the water on US 50 was 10 to 12 feet deep in some places.

Come see the Flood Exhibit at the Smithsonian this fall and purchase the book: Water,Water, Everywhere for more stories about Floods in Lawrence County.