The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

mississippi floodAbout 80 years ago, one of the worst flooding in the history of the United States devastated seven states and placed more than 26,000 square miles of land under water. Affected were the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. 

The 1927 Mississippi flood began a year before when torrential rains fell in the region. The area experienced extraordinary heavy rains during the summer of 1926 and went on through winter until spring.

The record rains was ten time more than the previous years. The Mississippi river is known to overflow its banks on a regular basis. But because of the heavy rains, floods began to occur in the lower Mississippi area during the early months of 1927. And every time a flooding occurs, it bested the previous one in magnitude, area covered, and damages incurred.

By February 1927, the Mississippi has inundated more than 100,000 acres with ten to fifteen feet of water. The coverage grew to as big as one million acres of land by April 9. And yet the rains still continue to fall. The US Army Corps of Engineers assured the public that the levees that they built to control the regular rise of the Mississippi would hold. But this was no ordinary rise in the water level of the river.

On April 15, 1927, more rains came. The rainfall was already a record high and yet there seems to be no break from the downpour. Rains fell in the states of Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana.

Soon the river overpowered the levees which the Army has, at some areas, stacked up from an original 7 feet to as high as 38 feet. Nature again proved that she is more powerful than man. One of the biggest breaks in the levees was at Mounds Landing where the water from the river flooded an area more than 50 miles wide and 100 miles long. Trees, cotton fields, houses and infrastructure, and whole communities went under 20 to 30 feet of water.

The flood waters began to withdraw back to the river by July 1. However, more than 1.5 million acres of land was still under water. Even so, the river still measured an unbelievable 70 miles wide.

The 1927 Mississippi flood is permanently written down in history as among the worst mother nature dished at us. The flood waters claimed more then 500 lives, and made more than 700,000 people homeless, not to mention the millions in damages it brought to the infrastructure and agriculture in the area.

There were a number of socio-political issues that came out because of the 1927 flood. Among them was the maltreatment of Southern blacks in the refugee camps. The floods also catapulted then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover to the presidency since he was in charge of the flood relief operations. He got the blacks’ vote when he promised reforms for their better treatment but lost it four years later in his reelection bid when he broke most of his promises.

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