Mr. BARRY: OK. (Reading) `In the entire flooded region, 50 percent of all animals--half of all the mules, horses, cattle, hogs and chickens--had drowned. William Beanland, a civil engineer, was chosen to handle the repair work. We were somewhat late in turning on the alarm, as we could get no one at the Levee Board with the proper authority to say where the break was., Sixteen-year-old Mildred Shepherd was studying for her Latin exam when she heard the fire alarm. Though it and its tributaries were lined by levees, they were filled to overflowing, and part of the Mississippi River sought this shorter, straighter course to the sea. One day after the waters had dropped to a depth of about a foot, Teddy (who was three years old) wanted to wade using Daddys knee boots. MORE: What you should know about hurricanes, heavy rain and flood insurance. It tells the story of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 which left 700,000 people homeless in Louisiana and Mississippi. . Thousands were left homeless for weeks, even months. Greenvilles protection levee north of town did not hold in the initial April flood. Urged to leave, residents boarded trains for higher ground in Opelousas, Bradshaw reported. All Rights Reserved. Their intention, apparently, was to lower the level of the river and to save the city of New Orleans. Mr. JOHN BARRY (Author, "Rising Tide"): You're welcome. Some twenty thousand people were housed in Lafayette alone. : PI/1992.0002.020, Intersection of Washington and Shelby streets in downtown Greenville. Hundreds of sturdy barns, cotton gins, warehouses and farmhouses had been swept away. By the end of May, sixty thousand refugees were either in southern Louisiana camps or receiving Red Cross aid elsewhere. WERTHEIMER: Herbert Hoover was President Coolidge's secretary of Commerce in 1927, so he was the man in charge of rescue operations. . New Orleans-based singer/pianist Marcia Ball also covered the song at several Katrina benefit concerts. 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton Mr. BARRY: Yeah, that's correct, and the idea is very comparable to simply pulling the plug out of the bathtub. Sung from the perspective of a nameless resident of the area recounting the flooding of St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes during the flood, "Louisiana 1927" features lyrics that depict the devastation of the residents of those parishes in the aftermath of the flood. Courtesy Mississippi Department of Archives and History, accession no. Learn how and when to remove this template message, Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, "Jolie Holland to Release Compilation Album Benefit Post-Harvey Recovery", Lonely at the Top: The Best of Randy Newman,, Song recordings produced by Lenny Waronker, Articles needing additional references from September 2018, All articles needing additional references, Articles with MusicBrainz work identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, This page was last edited on 3 April 2023, at 11:30. 25.71% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, the highest percentage of any Louisiana parish.[13]. Residents raced to the railroad embankment, the only remaining high ground, the rescue train stranded and of no help. The Pentagon says an additional 10,000 National Guard troops will be going there and to Mississippi. It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. . Center for Louisiana Studies Archive; Evangeline Oak during the 1927 flood. 40.0% were of French, French Canadian or Cajun ancestry and 9.1% identified as having American ancestry. loyno . "The merchants worked all day through the night trying to scaffold up their store goods. They're tryin' to wash us away. As of the 2020 United States census, there were 32,350 people, 12,172 households, and 7,739 families residing in the parish. "She said, 'Run and go on the levee,'" she recalled, adding she "jumped out the bed in my night clothes," forgetting her favorite doll which was recovered later in the mud. WERTHEIMER: That's Aaron Neville singing Randy Newman's song, "Louisiana 1927.". Both caused disruptions of life in southern Louisiana for thousands of people that arguably could be outranked only by the destruction caused during the Civil War. The water is now at the top of the levee, and we have heavy showers and torrential downpours almost everyday and night. Snead, J., P. V. Heinrich, and R. P. McCulloh, 2002, This page was last edited on 22 February 2023, at 14:35. Few had time to save personal belongings. They're tryin' to wash . A day too dark and stormy to go to church or even out of doors. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. But 10 years later . [2] [3] Lafayette served as host to around 26,000refugees in Red Cross centers established in May of 1927, Mouton reported in 1983. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017. The cost of the damage has been estimated to be between $246 million and $1 billion, $4.2-$17. I have, you know, only speculative answers. And in fact, he managed to deliver aid without airplanes faster than aid has gotten to New Orleans in the Gulf Coast today. Clouds rolled in from the north and it started to rain. Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline. Nearly one million people were left homeless. President Bush announced this morning that an additional 7,000 federal troops will be sent to Louisiana to help with relief efforts. 4,500 added to flood zones in Lafayette Parish, What you should know about hurricanes, heavy rain and flood insurance, Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. At the end of August 1927, an anonymous Associated Press reporter touring the Teche region was able to write, Little farmhouses, bearing brown watermarks at various heights according to the depth of the water reached, are once more occupied, and some of the farmers are plowing in preparation for new plantings. Permission to publish and acquire images or requests for more information about materials that you find in the LDL should be directed to the institution that contributed the item to the LDL. The authoritative record of NPRs programming is the audio record. Mayor of Greenville John Aloysius Cannons notes show the confusion among the people as the event happened on April 21, 1927. Privacy Policy, Center for Louisiana Studies at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, The Louisiana Endowment has included this work in. Officials on May 18urged evacuation of a large area that included Port Barre, Leonville, Breaux Bridge and Arnaudville. Whole communities, such as Bayou Chne, built upon a ridge in the Atchafalaya River basin, had to be abandoned because they were in the path of the floodwaters that might be diverted. As heavy rainfall in 1926 continued into the spring of 1927, the Mississippi River began cresting in places like Cairo, Illinois, sending tons of water rushing southto Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Privacy Policy. He immediately went to work on plans to build a mud box with driven pilings and sandbags to seal the gaps. : PI/CI/G74.4, no. It runs on the Islandora open-source digital repository software. By the end of January, major tributaries such as the Ohio River were overflowing their banks. I said there were almost 700,000 people being fed by the Red Cross. In early April 1927, Henry Waring Ball of Greenville, Mississippi, wrote in his diary: April 8, 1927at 12 it commenced to rain hard and I have seldom seen a more incessant and heavy downpour until the present moment 9 p.m. The river rose all day and the river rose all night. Courtesy Mississippi Department of Archives and History, accession no. Instead, the levees held the rainwater inside the city. The river rose all day and the river rose all night. about 500. It was from this poem that founding father Paulin Fontenot was to propose the namesake of "Evangeline" for this parish, allegedly foreseeing an emerging American tourism centered upon the Acadian saga. Citizens either rowed down the streets and avenues or walked on the raised walkways that were built in front of the commercial areas. The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines. They felt that it was wrong, and looking at this, I think, created a real change in the way Americans as a people viewed the role of the government's responsibility toward individuals. One-Year subscription (4 issues) : $20.00 . People couldn't get their arms or heads around it. Join us for this ride! The Bonnet Carre Spillway was the first diversion structure built in Louisiana as a result of the 1927 flood. Courtesy of Center for Louisiana Studies at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette The Evangeline Oak during the 1927 flood. The water rose quickly, extinguishing the fire under the black pot and before long, there wasn't a dry spot in the yard. WERTHEIMER: Mr. Barry, clearly, we're looking at incredible devastation in photographs of New Orleans and the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines: shattered homes, piles of debris that are completely unrecognizable as whatever they once were. A total of 41,673 homes were flooded; 21,836 buildings were destroyed; 62,089 buildings were damaged; and 2,836 work animals, 6,873 cattle, 31,740 hogs, and 266,786 poultry were drowned. White people were housed on the fifth floor, Black people on the sixth. He's also a resident of New Orleans and Washington, DC. "Seeing the dirty brown water snaking through the grass and palmettos was sufficient to make cold chills run up and down one's spine," he said. Jolie Holland covered "Louisiana 1927" on Hummingbirds & Helicopters Vol 1: A Benefit for South Texas, a benefit album released after Hurricane Harvey in 2018.[2]. They reneged on all their promises, written promises; they controlled the state Supreme Court, so the lawsuits against them went nowhere. Her grandfather, the Rev. Close Subscribe. Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline. You never know where WUNC's events will take you. Search terms . The flood drove many tenant farmers, most of whom were African American, off their land and, in many cases, out of the region. That music inspired Lauren Ashlee Messina's dance-based piece "Louisiana Flood Stories: 1927," which runs at the Contemporary Arts Center on July 8-9. About 81 percent of St. Landry Parish was inundated, while about 67 percent of the land in Iberia and St. Martin parishes going under water. All rights reserved. A boat eventually took them to a Red Cross camp where they were assigned to a tent with army cots and blankets that was their home for at least two weeks. For weeks the river rose, it passed the highest stage ever known before, 52.3/10 feet reached in 1922 , and went up steadily, a foot a day, which, as well as the height, was unprecedented. To read a full account of the flood by Lucy Somerville, click here. The Louisiana Digital Library (LDL) is composed of collections from many different institutions. Popa Ed Lenzs hedges was clipped to form an arch over the walk way to his front door. I have observed that when the river is high it is always raining. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1997. Eventually, Bayou Teche overflowed its banks, flooding communities like Breaux Bridgge, St. Martinville and New Iberia, though not to the extent that communities to the north suffered. The highest areas of Greenville were covered by only a few feet of water, however, the lower areas were inundated from eight feet to over rooftops. Even at the age of 8 years, I could imagine the expanse of water that would reach from the Mississippi to where we were 60 miles away.". In Mississippi there were two levee areas of special concern. Louisiana, Louisiana. Some people got lost in the flood. Much of Lafayette remained dry. Mr. BARRY: That's correct. Now, I dont have to take that Latin Exam. And I threw my book into the air hitting the porch ceiling . Perhaps the only other natural disaster in the United States that comes close to the level of devastation of Hurricane Katrina was the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. Typhoid shots and other immunizations were given to prevent the spread of disease. Raining constantly all this morning, none of us slept much. Our side of the street featured a hedge beginning at MP&L Co. corner and continuing to the corner of Clay and included Uncle Clarences and Aunt Rubys property. Mr. BARRY: Well, it's a good question. A 12-inch fall is reported for Cairo. The Flood Control Act of 1928 authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build levees, diversions and spillways for flood control. The majority of the area was originally settled by French Canadian colonists and former colonial marines (coureurs de bois) from such outposts as Fort Toulouse and Fort Kaskaskia and later included 19th-century French-speaking soldiers and immigrant families. The Lucy Somerville Howorth Collection, Delta State University Archives, Cleveland, Mississippi. The National Safety Council estimated deaths in the Yazoo- Mississippi Delta alone at 1,000. Scott Simon will be back next week. : PI/ 1992.0002.039, The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Station in Helm, Mississippi, on April 29, 1927. The steady rainfall filled streams, bayous, creeks, and ditches in the Delta region and saturated the farmland. River water poured through the breach and began to rush to the south, soon joined by floodwaters caused by a break in a Bayou des Glaises levee to the north of St. Landry, in Avoyelles Parish. I mean, not necessarily down South but this was a huge flood across many states. Mr. Barry, thank you very much. Another train stood ready to roll if the worst happened, hauling to safety the hardy, or foolish souls who stayed behind, even though water from Bayou des Glaises had inundated nearby Palmetto, LeBeau and Rosa," he wrote. Thus, the people struggling to live on a sliver of ground above water, became aggravated about their circumstances. With a sea of water in the commercial and residential areas of downtown Greenville, the town resembled Venice, Italy, with its canals. You know, history was largely written back in the '20s, I think, by people who looked askance at the South because of the blatant racism, and they really didn't care that much about what happened in the area that was most severely hit, which was Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. Quiz yourself on Black history. Once again, housing had to be found for tens of thousands of refugees who had no relatives to stay with. Henry Waring Ball Diary, Mississippi Department of Archives and History Mildred Shepherd [Rushing] Diary, Shepherd-Baird family history book written by Mildred Shepherd Rushing. Yarborough, was one of those whose store was threatened." And they didn't write about it. Criticism over the handling of Katrina contributed in large measure to the decision by Gov. McCain, William D. The Triumph of Democracy 1916-1932 in A History of Mississippi, Volume Two, edited by Richard Aubrey McLemore. What the river has done to this poor . Why don't more people know about this? "About daylight, 5:30 or so, we heard them shooting," he recalled in the 2002 report. Some people got lost in the flood. Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline. Contact John Sharp (John.Sharp@Louisiana.Edu) for more information about use and reproduction. "And we'd row the boat right into the drugstore front door, right on down to the pharmacy counter" to give Jackson prescriptions to fill. Simon & Schuster Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. Another flood control structure and spillway was built in the 1950s at Morganza to divert water from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya River Basin, relieving pressure on levees from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Louisiana 1927 Lyrics What has happened down here is the wind have changed Clouds roll in from the north and it start to rain It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time Six feet of. There is a passage in your book where you described what it looked like when the river--the Mississippi River--finally subsided back into its banks, and I wonder if you could just read part of that for us. I think one is that it was so big and covered so wide an area, it was a little bit like a dog trying to bite a basketball. 543191 [1] Evangeline is an unincorporated community in Acadia Parish, Louisiana, United States. Ewing, Jasper G. Flood damageLouisiana. As the water rose on the levee, it was the levee guards duty to fill sandbags and place them on top of the levee in order to stay ahead of the water height. 337. WERTHEIMER: Now when the flood hit Greenville, Mississippi, you write in the book that people, blacks and whites together, took refuge on the highest ground they could find, which was the levee. On May 20, just before the levee break at McCrea, Louisiana, 35,000 people fled from the fragile levee . The river rose all day. "We thought it was a cattle stampede. Lucy Somerville [Howorth], The Mississippi Flood of 1927 published in June 1927 edition of Womens Press. That their way of life is disappearing. They're tryin' to wash us away. 91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount The alarm that the levee had broken was given to the people of Greenville by a prearranged signal, the fire whistle. Adding to their anger, a natural breach of the levees subsequently eased pressure on the New Orleans levee; the blasting had been unnecessary. Resident Ray Griffin, who was 76 in 1981, recalled the way everyone pitched in to fill and place sandbags around the city. Article continues after advertisement Randy Newman, "Louisiana 1927." . "Louisiana 1927" is a 1974 song written and recorded by Randy Newman on the album Good Old Boys. Mr. Barry, thank you very much. The air is saturated with moisture, and the luxuriance of plant growth is extraordinary. Barry, John M. Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.

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