Big Sandy Flood of 1957
Last week I spent extensive time looking back on the 75th anniversary of the Ohio River Flood of 1937. My travels took me to Guyandotte and Huntington, to Ironton (courtesy of U-Tube) and finally to Portsmouth where I ended the week at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State Univerity.
Friday night I was honored to be part of the re-release of the movie “River Voices” , the award winning documentary which focused on Portsmouth’s encounter with the mighty Ohio during that fateful January. Dr. John Lorentz and his son Nathan did a marvelous job in matching the pictures and video (River) to the words of survivors (Voices).
My role as the surrogate meteorologist of the 1937 flood gave me the unique perspective of weather forecaster and citizen. I hope you had a chance to see the story I ran on the night’s activities. The night started with interpretative dance from the Cirque de Art theatre which was followed by the digital remake of "River Voices". The account of the 37 flood included the riveting story of Alberta Parker who survived the rising wall of water in her mother's hands.
Afterwards a Q & A with the audience focused on everything from the weather pattern that led to the event to the cinematography compiled by Nathan Lorentz to the story telling of Dr. John Lorentz. It was indeed a compelling night in Portsmouth. The movie ended with the hope for the future as Portsmouth picked up the pieces and renewed its identity as a thriving river town in the post Depression-World War II era.
This week however, I am turning my attention to the Big Sandy River and the Great Flood of 1957. On Friday, I will relive the flood with film video as it was shot in ’57. That fateful January 31st. the Big Sandy roared into flood and swamped the city of Pikeville. My video is mainly from Hazard which was ground zero for this flood that President Eisenhower would call “the greatest flood since the Civil War”. So bad was this flood that the engineering marvel known as the Cut-Thru was designed to divert the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River around the city of Pikeville. Imagine turning the course of a major river and diverting its waters around a city!
I will add to this blog as the week goes on including the interviews I did with Flood victims from the Martin County Senior Center.