Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Great Googly Moogly!

So, late Sunday I was looking up some news stories from Arkansas about how bad the flooding was that was set to hit Memphis. I'd been surprised to hear that I-40, between Little Rock and Memphis, was closed and traffic being re-routed to two-lane highways -- mainly because I wd have assumed, having traveled that road before, that any water high enough to knock out the interstate wd already be over the old highways. Apparently not: it was flooding along the White River (better known these days not for the White River Monster but as the last stomping grounds of the no-longer-exinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker) that was to blame.


News of the flood that's just now cresting in Memphis, and on its way to Baton Rouge is bad enough: they think it'll match the flood of 1937. But I was stunned to read just how bad the flood of 1927, which was even worse. I'd only heard about this once before, in a Schlesinger article debunking recent (1990s?) claims that Herbert Hoover had actually been a progressive. According to Schlesinger, so far as I remember his piece (it's been a while since I read it), Hoover's flood relief added greatly to his reputation as a humanitarian but Hoover pretty much ignored black farmers hit by the disaster. I hope that's not true. In any case, here's the piece about how, bad as it looks, it's no Katrina, and it's no 1927;

And, just in case the link doesn't work, here are the two final paragraphs that left me stunned (emphasis added):

This year's flooding is set to eclipse numerous crest records set mainly in 1927 and 1937. The Great Flood of 1927 swelled the Lower Mississippi to 80 miles wide in some parts, caused up to 1,000 deaths by some estimates and drove more than 600,000 people from their homes.

Since 1927, levees have been raised and constructed with different methods, dozens of reservoirs have been added across the basin and floodways have been added.

That's right: during the 1927 flood at Mississippi was EIGHTY MILES WIDE.

Great googly moogly!


No comments: