1937 Portsmouth, Ohio Flood updated Jan. 13, 2012

      The Ohio river began a rise in middle January with a large volume of rainfall in the West Virginia and Pennsylvania hills. By January 19 the river rose to  55 feet with a crest of near 60 feet forecast for Jan. 21.
      Early on Jan 21, with heavy rain throughout the entire Ohio valley and its tributaries Portsmouth knew a flood was inevitable.  By 5 a.m. Jan. 22 the water began entering the city, backing up through the sewers whose valves had been opened to permit recession of the water after the flood and lapping over the floodwall.
      A total of 13 inches fell during 21 days in January four times the normal amount. On Jan. 27 a crest of 74.23 inches was reached.
      Damages totaling more than $16,000,000 was wrought to the flood in greater Portsmouth.  The loss to private homes, garages and contents was estimated  at $3,943,000.  Damage to municipal and school buildings in Portsmouth and New Boston was estimated at $316,200.  Loss to merchandise, equipment and buildings of Portsmouth and New Boston utilities, manufactures and merchants was placed at $7,202,000.  Churches were damaged to the extent of a $100,000.  
      One person was drowned. Eight thousand people were rescued by boat. At one point there was 34,248 refugees from the flood.

Many of the pictures are from the February 28, 1937 souvenir section of the Portsmouth Times loaned to me by George Barlow (owner of Family Woodworks LLC, Piketon, OH). 

1937 Flood 7th & Findly

7th and Finley Street during flood


1937 Flood Falters Drug Store Portsmouth

1937 Flood Falters Drug Store Portsmouth


1937 flood City manager Frank Sheeh

1937 flood city manager Frank Sheehan & deputy of WPA


1937 flood boat on 2nd street

Boat on 2nd street during 1937 flood


1937 Portsmouth areial view


Portsmouth Klockner Chev on 2nd st

Glockner Chevrolet Company located on 2nd Street

Joe Hannah photo


Portsmouth at Grant Bridge looking

On Grant Bridge looking north up Chillicothe Street

Joe Hannah photo

Portsmouth Front Mill St. Sector

Wreck house and debris in the hard hit Front-Mill street sector


Portsmouth receeding Flood Waters

The receding floodwaters left debris piled up as though a hurricane had stuck


Portsmouth --food in Columbus

Food at the Coliseum at the state fairgrounds in Columbus being ready for shipment to Portsmouth


Portsmouth NBC Broadcasting from

Tom Manning, NBC radio announcer, broadcasting from a row boat at Seventh and Chillicothe streets.


Portsmouth people scurring to Hillt

People scarring to the Hilltop as the water rose higher in their homes.  They carried groceries, clothing and babies, such as these people.


Portsmouth with Proctorville sign

Flood waters carried the Proctorville sign more than 50 miles downstream and left it at door step of Isaac Moore, 407 Broadway street.


Portsmouth Oil Tanks

Flooded Oil Tanks


Portsmouth couple at Hilltop

Portsmouth a typical couple getting food and shelter at Hilltop school


Portsmouth Chillicothe St. looking

Chillicothe street looking north


Portsmouth Chillicothe Street

Looking west on Third Street from Chillicothe Street



Portsmouth Scioto River Levee

N&W tracts on the Scioto River levee


Portsmouth getting water at Kinney'

A typical lineup at Kinney's Lane spring waiting for drinking water.


Portsmouth Washington Hotel

Washington Hotel


U. S. Grant School Gym

Floodwaters spoiled U. S. Grant school gym, scene of Portsmouth High school basketball games


Portsmouth typical of the north end

Flood damages typical in the North End


Portsmouth the usual placid Ohio Ri

The normal placid Ohio River


Portsmouth Bigelow M E Church

A thick carpet of mud left in the Bigelow M. E. Church


Portsmouth Hayport road

Damages left on Hayport road


Portsmouth WPA & CCC workers

WPA workers and CCC enrollees helped hurry along the cleanup of flood area streets after the flood left. Location Gallia and Offner.


A small portion of the debris dug o

Some of the debris dug and shoveled out of the basement of The Times building


Portsmouth moving WPGI

L to R: Joe Graham, Paul Holton, and Orville Fields with police radio station WPGI


Portsmouth moving the police radio

L to R: Harold Saylor and Bill Gammon moving the police radio station WPGI from the basement of city hall to a higher story.


Portsmouth WPAY Paul Wagner

Paul Wagner & Mrs. Marie Vandergrift looking out the window at WPAY

WPAY signed on in 1935.


Portsmouth H. E. Feyer broadcastin

Harold Saylor (left) and Dr. H. E. Feyler broadcasting over Saylor's home radio


Portsmouth Vandergrift at WPAY wind

Mrs. Marie Vandergrift at WPAY window


Portsmouth 1937 WPA workers

WPA workers putting sand bags on the Scioto River levee


Portsmouth workers drying sand bags

WPA workers laying out sandbags to dry out


Portsmouth new Post office

The new post office on the right and note the United Brethren church on the left now gone and is part of the Kroger parking lot.


Portsmouth 1937 WPA worker rescues

WPA worker is being handed a child thought the window


Portsmouth 1937 Chillicothe St. loo

Chillicothe Street looking south


1937 Flood North end Market Street

Looking north on Market Street



Portsmouth Market St. East side 1937 flood

Looking at East side of Market Street


1937 Flood at the N & W overpass

1937 flood at the N & W overpass


Portsmouth 2nd St 1937 flood

2nd Street looking east



1937 Flood Gallia St

Looking East on Gallia Street


1937 Flood Gallia Street

Gallia Street



1937 Flood at N & W station

1937 Flood at the N & W depot


1937 flood at N&W overpass

1937 flood by the Via Duck and N& W station


1937 Second St. bridge to W Portsmo

1937 flood Second Street Bridge to West Portsmouth


1937 flood view from OH river

View of Portsmouth 1937 flood from the Ohio River


Some of the advertisers found in the souvenir addition are as follows: Sears, 3rd & Chillicothe Streets; Kobackers's; Security Central National Bank; J. C. Penny Co.; Montgomery Ward; Atlas Fashion; The Portsmouth Banking Co. 6th & Chillicothe streets.; The Cussings & Fearn Co. 831 Gallia Street; Kay Jewelry Co. 817 Gallia Street; Stewart's corner of Vinton & Young Streets; Sheets Furniture, 526-28 Stewart Street; Scioto Motors 1510-18 Gallia Street; Bake Shop, 6th & Chillicothe; The Ohio Power Co where you could get Electric Ranges and Water heaters with a low down payment of $1.98 for the range and $1.22 for the heater plus tax; The Southern Ohio Maytag Co., 934 Gallia; Portsmouth Gas Co. 8th and Chillicothe streets; Bragdon's, Portsmouth Thrift Center; Sutter's 1023-25 Gallia Street; Lewis Furniture Co.; Chabot's Super Service 9th & Offnere Sts. & at Damarin Hill Station; Glockner Chevrolet Co. 2nd & Chillicothe Streets; Compton Engraving & Printing; Drs. Bennett & Babcock; Household Finance Corp 211 Masonic Temple; The Midland Grocery Co.; Collins, 322 Chillicothe St; L. C. Davis Showroom where they has the Nash LaFayette '400', Ambassador Six & Ambassador Eight on display 1618-1622 Gallia; Kroger stores; Wolff 320 Chillicothe street; Summers & Son 906 Gallia Street; Ideal Milk Co. Walker's Family Shoe Store 420 Chillicothe Street; Stewart's Drugs 904 Gallia Street & 4th & Chillicothe Streets; People's store 308 Chillicothe Street; Artwil Dress Shop 418 Chillicothe Street; Universal Auto Co. see them for the new Ford V-8 1112-30 Gallia Street; Knose Chevrolet Sales, 5607 Gallia; J. F. Carr, Cash For Old God, 813 Gallia; J.D. Williams Retail Dept. Williams Mfg. C. Bldg. Gallia at Campbell; Schaffer, 216 Market Street. Gallenstein Auto Sales 1014 Gallia St. at John; Hopkins Bros. 212 Washington St., Zuhars Oldsmobile Co., Gallia at Lincoln; and Keystone Press Co. 840-42 Forth St.;

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