Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wabash River Flood of 1958

   On June 11 it was reported that the Wabash already at 15.6 ft was slowly rising after three straight days of “cloudbursts” and violent storms.  From Wabash and Marion to Lafayette – families in the Wabash Valley were keeping close watch.

Brig. Gen. John W. McConnell order out 50 Guardsmen to fight a Deer Creek levee break, at Delphi, where 25 families got out ahead of the flood.

Gen McConnell also ordered sandbags to Peru and Marion.

   Between Marion and the junction of Mississinewa and the Wabash, the Wabash County sheriff’s dept. warned dozens of families to flee their summer homes at Maple Grove and Red Bridge.
Lightening killed 12 cattle on the Lawrence Wagner farm near Auburn.

 Kokomo city officials advised citizens to fill containers with clean water as flooding in Wild Cat Creek threatened the city waterworks.

 Tornado alerts were issued for most of the state.


The Wabash River slowly receded Thursday after reaching a crest of 17.8 feet in Logansport at 5 o'clock in the morning, but a forecast of showers and thunderstorms by Thursday evening, caused continued anxiety among those in the flood areas. Frank Elmlinger, local weather observer, said the river remained stationary for several hours before it began to drop slowly. By noon it had receded only a tenth of a foot. The Indianapolis weather bureau had predicted a crest of 18 feet or more here. The crest in this flood was just a foot below that reached in the last local flood on January 5, 1950, and was the same level reached by the flood of March, 1930. Although an estimated 75 families moved out of their homes here, few of them actually had water above the basements of their houses. Many basements were flooded, including those in the business district on Market street west of Pearl Street. It was too early to make any accurate estimate of tide flood damage, but it was believed that most of it was suffered by farmers, who lost complete fields of corn and soybeans.
The peak of the flood activity was reached Wednesday night, with approximately 200 local citizens actively engaged in relief and patrol work including the Red Cross, the National Guard, Civil Defense units, special deputies, Boy Scouts, ham radio operators and  soldiers from the radar unit in addition to the regular law enforcement agencies. Much of the activity was necessitated by the fact that all of the telephones in the south and west sections of the city and at the Logansport state hospital were put out of service at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday by water entering a 1200 pair telephone cable near the bus depot.   Telephone officials said water backing up in the manholes apparently caused sufficient pressure to force the water into the cable, shorting the lines out. Telephone linemen worked all night making the necessary repairs and local officials of the General Telephone company said they hoped to have service restored by noon today. They estimated that 3,000 telephones were affected.

Both the National Guard's radio telephones and the mobile short wave sets of the ham operators proved of great value in the emergency. The Guard kept units at Longcliff,  at the city building, and at  Civil Defense headquarters, and also for a short time at Memorial and  St. Joseph hospitals.

The ham radio operators, on the air continuously since 7 a.m. Wednesday, roamed the flood area with their mobile units, reporting families that needed help, locations where water was over roads and streets, and places where traffic was congested.

Operating on two frequencies, 75 meters, and six meters, they kept in  contact with their headquarters in the basement of the city building, The ham operators participating in the volunteer relief work included Don Hyman, Charles Mays, John Rice, Harry BurkJiast, Jr., Nelson Shepherd, Eugene Buntain, John Frye, Harold Kane, Robert Minnick, Dr. Edward Bosh, Ronald Btame, Bill Withrow, and Robert Gharis. Automobile traffic on U. S. highway 35 and state road 29 was still being rerouted Thursday because of the high water in the underpass on Biddle's island. However, cars continued to use highway 25 despite the large section, of the road that was under water at the Cicott street curve from the flooding of Goose Creek. U.S. highway 24 also was partially covered by water at the west edge of the city next to Harvey's drive-in.

June `3, 1958 Logansport Press (above)

Although much of the high water had receded in the county there still were places where roads were under water. The county highway department said, for example that the water remained to the top of a fence post on a road northeast of Royal Center. The highway department was busy Thursday hauling stone to a large washout at a county road intersection three miles northeast of Royal Center and a mile north of the place where the other road was still flooded. It will take a carload of stone to fill that washout alone, highway officials said. A number of smaller washouts in the county already have been repaired, and the work of replacing washed out culverts also has begun.

Thirty local National Guardsmen were called into service Wednesday afternoon at the request of Wayne Schaefer, local Civil Defense chief. They remained on duty Thursday.

The business and Professional Women’s Club helped the Red Cross keep its office open all night by working two-hour shifts. The Red Cross put cots and blankets in the new education building in the St. James parish hall for the use of flood victims but those were not needed as most stayed with friends or relatives. The Red Cross fed the Guardsmen, Civil Defense workers, Red Cross workers, and the radar men, and the radar men served coffee to the volunteers during the night also. The Salvation Army took coffee .and doughnuts to the volunteers Thursday morning.

Sightseers continued to drive around the flood areas Wednesday night and Thursday morning, creating a traffic problem, despite the pleas of law enforcement officers and Civil Defense Director Wayne Schaefer for them to stay away.

Barricades manned by Guardsmen kept them out of the flooded streets, however.

June 14, 1958 Logansport Press, page 1 (above)

No comments:

Post a Comment