Celebrating the history of
Ohio County and Rising Sun
57 YEARS AGO
January 25th, 1962
FLOOD OF ’37 RECALLED
AT 25TH ANNIVERSARY
“The flood of ’37!” People have talked about the fears, evacuation and most of all – the water! More water than area residents have ever seen!
“CCC Boys rushed to Lawrenceburg where seeping levee causes hundreds to forsake homes. Aurora hard hit.”
“River to reach new all-time high today: 67-foot mark passed.”
BULLETIN: The Ohio river passed the 72-foot stage about 10 o’clock this morning, still rising rapidly.”
Unconfirmed reports are that the Lawrenceburg broke this morning and that lives were lost. Patriot and Markland are calling for assistance. The Recorder’s power has been shut off for more than 24 hours.
These were among the headlines in 1937 as families were fleeing the Ohio’s pathway – Transformed from the Beautiful Blue Ohio into a writhing, serpentine monster of destruction by more than three weeks of almost continuous rain, the Ohio maintained a steady rise of more than three inches an hour to reach an all-time high crest of 82-feet.
As the flood waters rose steadily in Rising Sun’s Main Street, more than 100 families were made homeless and approximately 20 business houses, including the Citizens’ State Bank, were forced to move out, most of the buildings filled with water. Back water in Main Street came up as far as the Post Office doors.
The Post Office was then located in the building which now houses the Sunrise Department Store. The Recorder office was in the second story.
The Ohio County News office was located above the Main Street Café. Shell Fisher recalls the days when it was necessary to go to work in a boat. He said that when a boat was not available, men wearing hip boots would carry others on their shoulders to get to the buildings on the lower end of Main Street. Shell says that families were living in the Court House, churches, school and every other available building.
Farmers couldn’t ship their milk to Cincinnati so they brought it to the Library corner where the Red Cross team distributed it to the homeless families.
In the farming areas, especially along the river, evacuation was very hard. Farmers waited until almost the last possible moment before they began moving out their cattle and hogs. One local man recalls helping the late Dr. H. S. Stevenson move out is farm animals on “Black Sunday”.
He recalls. “The day was very dark and the rain was pouring down. We started as soon as it was daylight. The river was rising so fast that we knew we couldn’t get all the animals in one trip. The river blocked the road from the barn to the highway so we drove the cattle north through the field then west to the highway.
“We put the pigs in the hayloft of the bar then drove the cattle out. We went back in a boat about an hour and a half later for the pigs and there standing in water in the loft.”
The most remembered episode in the saga of the flood is the “Black Sunday” when the Lawrenceburg levee broke, completely covering the city with water.
As Rising Sun is situated about the highest between Cincinnati and Louisville, damage was very small compared to flooded towns of Lawrenceburg, Aurora, Markland, Patriot, and Florence.
The crest at 82 feet marked the climax of what has been the most wide-spread disaster in Indiana’s history.