Encyclopedia Of Arkansas: The Flood Of 1937

Jan 16, 2020

The spring of 1937 witnessed some of the worst flooding in Arkansas history. January saw nearly thirteen inches of rain fall in Arkansas – eight inches above normal – and similar downpours in other states dropped 165 billion tons of water along the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys.

While levee improvements carried out after the disastrous 1927 flood kept the swollen Mississippi in its channel, tributary waterways backed up, inundating nearly two million acres in Arkansas. Rescue operations were needed in seventeen counties and nearly forty-one thousand Arkansas families were affected.

A Forrest City preacher reported “fifteen thousand refugees with more coming, plus twenty-thousand mules, cows, dogs, cats, and chickens” in the city. The American Red Cross set up seventy-five tent cities and other shelters to house the refugees. Thirty-seven people died in the flooding and livestock losses topped thirty-four thousand animals before flood waters receded in March.

To learn more, visit Encyclopedia of Arkansas.net.