The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937 by David Welky

The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937

byDavid Welky

Hardcover | September 30, 2011

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In the early days of 1937, the Ohio River, swollen by heavy winter rains, began rising. And rising. And rising. By the time the waters crested, the Ohio and Mississippi had climbed to record heights. Nearly four hundred people had died, while a million more had run from their homes. The deluge caused more than half a billion dollars of damage at a time when the Great Depression still battered the nation.

Timed to coincide with the flood's seventy-fifth anniversary, The Thousand-Year Flood is the first comprehensive history of one of the most destructive disasters in American history. David Welky first shows how decades of settlement put Ohio valley farms and towns at risk and how politicians and planners repeatedly ignored the dangers. Then he tells the gripping story of the river's inexorable rise: residents fled to refugee camps and higher ground, towns imposed martial law, prisoners rioted, Red Cross nurses endured terrifying conditions, and FDR dispatched thousands of relief workers. In a landscape fraught with dangers—from unmoored gas tanks that became floating bombs to powerful currents of filthy floodwaters that swept away whole towns—people hastily raised sandbag barricades, piled into overloaded rowboats, and marveled at water that stretched as far as the eye could see. In the flood's aftermath, Welky explains, New Deal reformers, utopian dreamers, and hard-pressed locals restructured not only the flood-stricken valleys, but also the nation's relationship with its waterways, changes that continue to affect life along the rivers to this day.

A striking narrative of danger and adventure—and the mix of heroism and generosity, greed and pettiness that always accompany disaster—The Thousand-Year Flood breathes new life into a fascinating yet little-remembered American story.

About The Author

David Welky is associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas and the author of Everything Was Better in America: Print Culture in the Great Depression and The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II.
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Details & Specs

Title:The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:September 30, 2011Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226887162

ISBN - 13:9780226887166

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1 The River
2 Roosevelt and the Rivers
3 Moving Out, Moving In
4 Black Sunday
5 Send a Boat!
6 Those Who Stayed
7 The Exiles
8 Coming Home
9 Politics
10 Moving?
11 Legacies
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations  
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

"A model of the disaster genre. . . . A comprehensive account, including political maneuvers over flood-control bills provoked by the deluge, this well-wrought history reflects thorough research and on-the-ground acquaintance with the Ohio River region."