West Virginia March 10, 2018
In 1937, A Great Flood Swept Through West Virginia And Changed The Ohio Valley Forever
Many cities that sit along the banks of the Ohio River, such as Huntington and Point Pleasant, have expansive flood walls. It may seem incomprehensible to some folks that the Ohio could flood so high that walls that high would even be necessary. But they would be wrong. The very reason those walls exist can be traced back to a single event: The Ohio Valley Flood of 1937.
It all began in early January of 1937. Much like 2018, despite it being winter, this particular period was unseasonably warm. The rain began to fall the first week of January and did not cease for 19 consecutive days. Combined with melting snow, the stage was set for a massive flood.
On January 5, water levels began to rise. In less than a week, the flood warnings began to roll in and record rainfalls were starting to occur. By the third week of January, flood waters had reached devastating levels.
This photo, and the two above it, show Guyandotte and Huntington as the flood hit peak levels, forcing people to navigate the streets of the city as they would the tributaries of a river.
Downtown Huntington, a good three to five blocks past the banks of the Ohio, was inundated with massive amounts of water that reached more than halfway up the front doors of shop fronts. Other places that were closer to the river, particularly homes, were completely destroyed as water levels rose near rooftops.
The flood waters in Huntington peaked at 69.45 feet - 19 feet above flood stage. By that point, thousands had lost their homes, being sheltered and fed in schools and churches.
Both Wheeling and Parkersburg crested at around 55 feet (about 19 feet above flood stage). Wheeling Island was completely submerged, and its residents evacuated.
By the time it was all over, the flood had taken about 400 lives, left 1 million people without homes and caused 500 million in damages. Because of this flood, massive floodwalls were built to ensure the water never hits peoples homes or businesses ever again.
Do you remember this flood, or know someone who does? Feel free to tell us all about it in the comments below.
To learn more about devastating West Virginia weather, check out
these 5 horrific winter storms that have gone down in history.