The Great Flood of 1937: Rising Waters, Soaring Spirits

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9781884532825: The Great Flood of 1937: Rising Waters, Soaring Spirits
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"Like San Francisco's earthquake and Baltimore's fire, the flood of 1937 became a Louisville benchmark; modern Louisville started with it." So said Harper's Weekly, and most historians agree. Seventy years ago, in January 1937, the Ohio River flooded in biblical proportions. Like New Orleans after Katrina, two-thirds of the city of Louisville, Kentucky was under water. But the citizens of Louisville, under the inspired leadership of Mayor Neville Miller, fought through the hardships and the challenges of the city's worst natural disaster to overcome extraordinary tragedy to save their city. This is the complete story of those heroic days. Through historic photographs, maps, log books, diaries and personal recollections, author Rick Bell re-creates, in thrilling detail, the magnitude of the devastation and the totality of the city's eventual triumph.

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About the Author:

Rick Bell is a native of the Portland neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky -- one of the areas inundated during the Great Flood of 1937. He grew up hearing stories of the Flood and the indomitable spirit of Louisville's citizens during that crisis and has spent years collecting the stories and photographs -- many previously unpublished -- that are featured in this book. Bell serves as the Executive Director of the U.S. Marine Hospital Foundation in Louisville, and currently resides in its Crescent Hill neghborhood.

Review:

For generations of Louisvillians, the 1937 flood was much more than a historical event. It was a watershed. And hundreds, maybe thousands, grew up on the stories of good humor, courage and endurance that marked the months of January and February 1937.

Rick Bell, who is overseeing the restoration of the Marine Hospital in Portland, has pulled all of these emotions, as well as many, many facts together, quite remarkably, in his new book, The Great Flood of 1937. For those who care about our city, and its history, this is an indispensable book.

(It is also the third significant contribution to local history in recent months by Butler Books of Louisville, which published Louisville Then and Now and Brandeis at 150 in 2006.)

In a comprehensive, yet breezy text, with an outstanding collection of photographs, Bell recreates the weeks of seemingly endless sacrifice. Remember, the flood came at one of the lowest points of the Great Depression. Louisville and other cities already were suffering; the rains of January 1937 only made matters much worse.

Those who lived through the flood, those whose families survived to tell the stories and those for whom it was merely a historical event will welcome The Great Flood of 1937. --Keith Runyon, Book Editor, The Louisville Courier-Journal

"Every home in the Louisville area should have a copy of this excellent book in order to understand this chapter in our history. As a true story of nature's power and human resilience, it has few equals." --Mary Alan Woodward, Book Editor, The Louisville Voice-Tribune

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