Louisville, KY Flood, Feb 1883

Louisville Suddenly Deluged.

An Embankment Burst At Midnight And One-Fifth Of The City Flooded.

Louisville, Ky., Feb. 13.-During the past 24 hours the Ohio River, by bursting through cut-offs and pouring over embankments, has completely submerged one-fifth of the area of this City. At least 7,000 or 8,000 people have been driven from their homes, and the loss by actual destruction of property, to say nothing of that from the stoppage of foundries and manufactories, is fully $800,000. To explain the situation fully it is necessary to state that the northeastern part of the city lying north of main Street and east of First, is on a level with the river when at average height, and it has been supposed hitherto to be protected from the flood by an embankment high enough to withstand even an extraordinary rise. This portion of the city is called “The Point,” and is inhabited mostly by laboring people. Scattered here and there among the cottages of the inhabitants are most of the large manufacturing establishments of the city.

At midnight last night the embankment which formed the only protection to this square mile of densely people territory gave way in several places simultaneously, and the immense body of water came down with tremendous force, sweeping everything before it. People who entered their houses on dry ground and went to bed in apparent safety awoke to find the water in the second stories. The frailer of the buildings were lifted from their foundations, carried, in some instances, a hundred rods and deposited against some other structure or left upside down in the midst of a sea of waters. Thirty-five squares were covered inside of a half hour to a depth of from 10 to 30 feet. It is impossible to state how many lives were lost, but it is feared that the number will prove great. Many men escaped by swimming. Several women with babies in their arms waded for squares before they reached places of security. At least 30 people of all ages and sexes were rescued from trees into which they had climbed. Hundred of domestic animals were drowned, and this to the people of “The Point” made a large item in the aggregate loss. It was impossible last night to gain any information either as to the extent of the damage or as to the condition of the sufferers, but this morning, with the first streak of daylight, the inundated region was alive with boats filled with relief parties. All night long large bonfires had been kept blazing on the edge of the flood, and hundreds of people availed themselves of the warmth. This morning ever available craft on the river was in active demand, and many families paid $10, and even $15, for the use of a boat for an hour or two to transport their furniture out of the reach of the water. Improvised rafts of doors, parts of fences, drift-wood, plank, and logs were to be seen in every direction, all freighted either with household goods or with people.