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CENLA FLOODS, RIVER CONDITIONS &

WEATHER                                                                1893: February 14 and 15. The Great Southern Snowstorm.
                                                                      Eight inches in Rapides parish; 24 inches in Rayne; low
By Dr. Patsy K. Barber                                                temperatures all year. Rain – no one could put a plow in the
                                                                      ground.
To those living in the Red River valley without levee protection at
one time meant a flood could prevent a crop and insure loss of a       1896-1897: Dry years leading to economic depression.
plantation. Drought and pestilence could be just as devastating.
The following was data collected during research and on the            1899: Low temperatures down to 16 degrees, followed 1901
economic effect bad weather brings. It always spells disaster:        record heat – 109 in the summer.

 December 1811 and January 1812: four great earthquake
shocks. Was this the New Madrid earthquake on the Mississippi  1908: Record flood – 40 feet.

river? Was this when Sunk Hills near Flatwoods occurred?               1927: Record flood on Mississippi River affecting every tributary

1823 Destructive flood, hill to hill water, crops destroyed, too late above 42 feet. Levee work in progress. “No work – no food”
to grow a cash crop. No levees, followed by yellow fever epidemic. applied. One hundred men were placed on Bayou Rapides levee,
Sheriff Fristoe was one fatality. He owned a large plantation on especially at Venderlicks. Trent James and P. G. Dugger directing
                                                                      crews, curbing outside of levee with boards.
Bayou Rapides, eight miles from the Courthouse.

 1828: Worse flood in memory. Efforts were made south of              1932 and 1937: Record Floods

Alexandria to construct levees, planters above Alexandria were on      1942: Bracing for record floods, at Kateland, Randolph

their own.                                                            Plantation – the levee broke at daylight on May 24 covering parts

 1849: Record flood, water hill to hill (Hot Wells to Natchez, MS). of Kateland, Smith, Bush and Thompson plantations.
Floods being recorded in Alexandria. Flood 35 feet. Mrs. St. John Strengthening levees continued.

Chilton, in an interview, said her parents traveling by boat all the   1945: Greatest flood yet – 45 feet.

way saw fence posts only a couple of inches above the water.

 1855: Extremely dry. Mike Paul – later Sheriff of Spring Creek      And on August 18, 2016, Louisiana streams south are flooding
– had a mercantile business in Elmer and ordered 300 sacks of         from up to 30 inches of rain. An unprecedented situation never
corn from St. Louis and sold it by arrival as far away as Sabine      experienced in the area before and the damages remain costly.

River. Due to drought, he and other merchants ordered staples
from St. Louis for 1856. The order was so voluminous a

steamboat was chartered for the delivery.

 1860: Dry year. E. M. Wells, planter on Bayou Robert, was

traveling by steamboat from the mouth of Red River to Alexandria
that took six days on the low river. At Snaggy Point, the stern
wheel of the boat threw up four alligators.

 1862: Known in the South as a bumper cotton crops year. In

June tornado swept through Alexandria doing extensive damage.
1866: Flood at 36 feet. Year following devastation of Civil War in
the South.

 1882 and 1884: Record floods.

 1887: River dropped to 14 feet. Flood again in 1892 at 38 feet.

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