April 13, 2015

Flooding of the Mighty Mississippi, Part Four - Early 1900s

Mississippi River at Natchez, Mississippi - 2014

The early 1900s saw the mighty Mississippi River overflow five times between 1903 and 1916.

Flood of 1903

The Mississippi River reached its ninth highest crest of record at New Orleans on May 29, 1903; cresting at 19.42 feet.

St. Louis Republic - 3/23/1903
Catahoula Parish may have been spared in 1903 due to a build up of the Sycamore levee following the flood of 1897.  From the March 23, 1903 edition of the St. Louis Republic of St. Louis, Missouri:
This levee has been raised since the flood of 1897 from two to three feet higher than it was then, and will be able to withstand the large amount of water yet to reach here.  This is the most important levee in this section, and if it holds intact the overflow will not flood Concordia, Tensas and Catahoula parishes on the front.
No other news reports have been found to indicate flooding occurred in Catahoula Parish in 1903.

Flood of 1908

The National Weather Service's records show that the lower Mississippi River was above flood stage for over 100 days below Arkansas City, Arkansas in the late Spring and early Summer of 1908.

Catahoula Parish felt the impact of this flood as noted in a July 11, 1908 article which appeared in the Thibadoux Sentinel of Thibadoux, Louisiana.

Thibadoux Sentinel - 7/11/1908

Flood of 1912

The mighty river made its presence known to the people of northeast Louisiana when it flowed out of its banks in 1912.  

Washington Herald - 4/26/1912
The El Paso Herald of El Paso, Texas reported on the flooding in Catahoula Parish in its April 30, 1912 edition.  
Whole Parish Under Water in Louisiana...Conditions in Catahoula parish were reported desperate.  Only about 10 percent of the total area of the parish is above water.
El Paso Herald - 4/30/1912

A May report from the flood relief committee in Natchez, Mississippi stated the following:
"All of Concordia Parish, all alluvial land in Catahoula Parish and on our side of the Mississippi, is now under water, and the river is still rising.  People are being forced to leave their homes and are being brought to Natchez for safety.  Over two thousand here now.  All railroads are out of commission.  Government relief work is equal to emergency."  
Washington Herald - 5/9/1912

In the latter part of April 1913, the lower Lake St. John levee broke due to overflow from the Mississippi River.  The following article from Natchez, Mississippi which appeared in the April 28, 1913 edition of The Sun in New York reports on the situation:

The Sun- 4/28/1913
The lower Lake St. John levee, twenty-eight feet high, ten miles above Ferriday, La., broke this morning at 3:30 o'clock and Concordia parish and parts of Tensas, Franklin and Catahoula parishes are being flooded, the water returning to the Mississippi through Black and Red rivers.  No deaths have been reported.
The river above and below has been relieved by the break, the depression being felt here in three hours and the water is falling an inch an hour. The gap is half a mile wide and twenty-five feet deep.

Flood of 1916

On February 15, 1916, main levees broke along the Mississippi River.  The following news articles report the events and the impact to several parishes including Catahoula.

From the February 15, 1916 edition of the Evening Star of Washington, D.C.:
It was stated that a large volume of water was rushing through the breaks and would flood Tensas, Concordia, Franklin, Catahoula, and possibly Madison parishes in Louisiana.

Evening Star - 2/15/1916
Evening Star - 2/15/1916

The Day Book of Chicago, Illinois reported on February 15, 1916:

Day Book - 2/15/1916

The Louisiana governor's office received requests for flood relief for the people of Catahoula and Concordia parishes in March of 1916.

Madison Journal - 3/18/1916
From an article appearing in the March 18, 1916 edition of the Madison Journal of Tallulah, Louisiana:
More appears for relief of the flood victims of Concordia and Catahoula parishes reached the governor's office.  
One, signed by a committee composed of S. A. Clark, notary public; W. F. Miller and S. D. Fairbanks, came from Parham, Catahoula parish.  
It said that 250 people and 67 head of stock which had been saved from the flood were badly in need of food and fodder.  It asked that provisions be sent to Tilden Landing on the Black river, the point most easily accessible to them.

*This post is part four in a series of posts in which an attempt will be made to document the history of flooding in Catahoula Parish caused by the overflow of the Mighty Mississippi River.  Occurrences will be presented using maps, newspaper articles, photographs and reports from the State Library of Louisiana and other collections from the sources linked below each post. 

Part One

No comments:

Post a Comment