Are you taking an out-of-state summer vacation?|
Story Archives: Remembering the Great Flood of 1927
|Remembering the Great Flood of 1927|
Eighty eight year-old Addie Brown can remember vividly watching her father trying to catch a "big one" from the front porch of her home in Liddieville when she was four.
"Daddy had a cane pole and he would fish off our front porch. Now, don't ask me if he actually caught anything, but he was trying," Brown said, as she sat in her room at Plantation Manor Nursing Center in Winnsboro recalling the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927.
Protecting the family became more important to her father than catching fish once the water began to come inside the house and they evacuated the farm.
"We all had to get on a big flatboat and go to a home in Crowville that belonged to the Holmes family," Brown said. "I don't know how many families were staying there, but we had a cow and some chickens that we brought with us."
While images of the flood are only known to most only through grainy, black and white photography depicting submerged streets and homes across Louisiana, there are a handful of residents left who still remember when the Mississippi's might was unleashed in Franklin Parish 84 years ago.
Fears that waters could again top levees, as they did in the spring of 1927, are bringing back memories to some who were there when the Mississippi River flooded 27,000 miles over seven states, displacing 700,000 and killing about 250 people.
The flood left much of Louisiana, including most of Franklin Parish, underwater.
"No one who went through it would forget it. That water came down from Arkansas and it came in a hurry. There has never been water like that before or since," said Ed Lee, who at 93 still lives on the same street in Winnsboro that he lived on in 1927 when he was 9 years-old.
Luckily, his home didn't flood, but rising waters made it evident that Lee's family would need to have a boat or be stranded, he said.
"My dad built a boat out of some lumber that we had and we took an oil-cloth off the dinning table and used it for a sail. We would have to sail some and paddle everywhere we went," Lee said.
His mind's eye can still see the half-submerged businesses on Prairie Street, people huddled in refugee camps on high ground and the dark shadows moving through Winnsboro's business district as catfish swam avenues that usually bustled with shoppers.
"It was all underwater and there were boats in the downtown area. Water was over the streets all the way to the bank, but I don't think the railroad went under all the way to town." he said. "We had Ash Slough on the west side and Turkey Creek to the east side, so water was everywhere no matter where you were."
People sloshed around in stores to take supplies that where stocked on high shelves in town, said 89 year-old Albert Browning of Winnsboro.
At 6 years-old, Browning came to Franklin Parish as an evacuee from Tensas Parish and settled in Winnsboro, where his family rented a home on higher ground.
He remembers a large flatboat running all day, every day, taking stranded people back and forth to downtown for supplies.
"It was huge and wide, about five or six feet wide, and was built out of boards. People would get on it and that's how they bought their groceries," Browning said. "That boat would come and pick people up and you would have to wait for them to come again to bring you back. It seemed like it took them about three forevers."
Of course, not everyone relied on a boat to take them to the city for food. Wild game had also been forced to higher ground and were easy picking, Browning said.
"At night, people would just get out and shoot the deer that were all gathered together up on the dry spots, It was pretty easy to kill you a deer," he said.
Times were different and even though the emergency response network and technology that would be available to people in a similar disaster today didn't exist, most people survived well during the weeks that water filled Franklin Parish, said Lee.
"We were country people, so we had things put up. We had food," he said.
Lee doesn't think he will ever see a flood as bad again, but if he ever does, he is sure that those who were around during the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 will be just fine.
After all, it's nothing they haven't see before.
"It would just be the matter of having a boat to get around in if it were to happen again," Lee said.
For the full story, subscribe to the The Franklin Sun's NEW E-Edition!