A running account of the flood of 1951

Source:  The Nowata Daily Star

 June 21, 1951—Weatherman George Seabolt reported that Nowata got 1.65 inches of rain last night.  The heavy rainfall was general throughout Oklahoma last night as the state received its 22ndstraight day of moisture.  The forecast calls for more rain tonight and tomorrow— the first official day of summer.

 June 22, 1951Power, Communication Lines Cut By Storm; Twister is Sighted.  Communications and power lines in Nowata County were dealt hard blows in one of the most severe electrical storms in years.  A tornado skipped through the Coody’s Bluff community.

June 25, 1951—Floodwaters Close 169 at Owasso.  The Verdigris River stood at 30 feet following a 15-foot rise, Ed Chouteau, city water plant operator, reported from Coody’s Bluff.  A month of wet weather in Oklahoma has sent rivers out of their banks, flooded farm and city areas and driven thousands of people from their homes.

June 29, 1951—Rains pelted the Nowata area last night and this morning as inclement weather delayed farming operations and did minor damage in southeast portions of the county.

June 30,1951—At least 15 families in the Alluwe community prepared to leave their homes this morning as the rampaging Verdigris River backed into Salt Creek and spread waters of the little stream two miles past its banks into the bottom lands of that area.  The Alluwe flood came on the heels of a 4.25 inch rain which drenched the county last night.

July 2, 1951—Water Superintendent Ed Chouteau reported that the Verdigris River was down to 37 feet from its 38½-foot level of Saturday night.  Flood stage is normally calculated at 35 feet 8 inched, the point where the river used to flow over the old U.S. 60 road.  Weather Recorder George Seabolt totaled up the June precipitation and reported 10.71 inches of rain, the most that has fallen here in a month since he began keeping records in 1941.

From Dave Johnson’s “Dear Folks”:  The elevated road through the Verdigris Valley River bottom east of Nowata on U.S. 60 proved its just benefits during the past few days.

July 3, 1951—Rampaging Verdigris is Near Record Level.  More than 42 square miles of Nowata County farm and oil lands were estimated to be under water along both sides of the Verdigris.  At noon the river stood at more than 39 feet at the city pump station, highest since the great flood of 1943.

July 5, 1951—The Verdigris River began falling after cresting at 41 feet, only one foot short of the high mark of 42 feet recorded in the great flood of an estimated 100 families were forced from their homes or marooned by the rising waters.

Fire Lads and Boat to Rescue

City firemen came to the rescue of a damsel in distress this morning—and thereby relieved an emergency at the Nowata Hospital.  With four surgeries on tap at the hospital this morning, Mrs. Hester Burch, superintendent, faced the problem of what to do for a surgical nurse.  Mrs. Mary Wigger, the regular surgical assistant is in bed with the mumps. Mrs. Lillian Nichols, the standby surgical nurse, was marooned at her home northeast of Nowata by waters of California Creek.  She called on Fire Chief Ike O’Dell for assistance. With Earnest Lee James handling the oars, the Chief launched a boat in the flood waters on the farm to market road east of Stop 38.  They found the stranded nurse on the other side of the water and transported her to the Nowata side, thence to the hospital.  In the meantime, Miss Jeannie O’Dell, local physician’s assistant, pinch hit in surgery until Mrs. Nichols arrived.

July 6, 1951—Nowata County’s floodwaters were receding today at a rate of one inch per hour according to Water Superintendent Ed Chouteau.  State Highway 10 east of Lenapah, U.S. 169 north of Nowata, and Highway 28 north of Alluwe were still closed.  Nowata was still without train service as water was more than 40 inches over the tracks in northern Rogers County.

July 7, 1951—Flood Damage Estimated Near One Half Million in Nowata Area.  County Farm Agent Claude Chessmore estimated crop damage at $150,000, property damage at more than $100,000, while losses to oil operations may hit $250,000.

July 9, 1951—All state and national highways were again open and trains were back on schedule for the first time in more than a week as the area began a slow recovery from the flood. The Nowata County Red Cross chapter was taking applications today for rehabilitation grants to families victimized by last week’s flood in the Verdigris River lowlands.  Grover Dick, disaster relief chairman of the local chapter, said applications must be filled out at the Red Cross office above the Victory National Bank.

Mrs. Edyth Barr, executive secretary of the local chapter, said she expected many applications from the area around Alluwe. A survey committee is to study the applications to determine actual need.  Max Randall is chairman of the committee and Joseph Bonner is vice chairman.

July 10, 1951—More high water for the flood-weary area of Nowata County may be on the way, the Associated Press reported today.  Heavy down-pours in Kansas could again cause the river to overflow.

July 17, 1951—The worst of Nowata County’s second flood in less than two weeks appeared to be waning today. The Verdigris halted its rise at the city pump station about 5 a. m. this morning, Water Superintendent Ed Chouteau reported.  The peak level was 39 feet 10 inches.

July 18, 1951—Plans are being made for the first typhoid shots to be given Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock in the lobby of the Savoy Hotel building. Other vaccinations will be given to flood victims on Monday at 2 p.m. in Alluwe and Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Delaware.

From Dave Johnson’s “Dear Folks”column sums it all up:  The year 1951 will go down as one of the worst flood years in history in Oklahoma.

The Questers in Nowata….

The newly chartered Questers group, No we ata, will be hosting a talk at the Nowata County Historical Museum at a date in June to be announced later.  The topic will be the historical significance and stories of aprons.  The speaker will be Shirley Morrison from Claremore.  She is a former librarian in the Nowata City school system and is also a gifted story teller.  A portion of her large apron collection will be on display and she encourages anyone attending to bring aprons of their own along with their stories.  The event is free.  Any questions call 918-273-1377 and leave a complete message. We hope to see you there, it should be a fun discussion.

Questers logo

QUESTERS ORGANIZATION

The Questers is an International organization that supports restoration and preservation of the past for the benefit of the future. It is composed of men and women that love history, educating themselves and others and collecting. The members can work with historical sites, artifacts and all forms of history. A meeting will be held on February 7, 3:00 pm at the Nowata County Historical Society Museum, 136 S. Oak for anyone interested in forming a group or groups in Nowata County. It is open to both men and women. A minimum of eight individuals is needed to form a group. For more information about The Questers organization visit Questers1944.org.

Reception…

On Saturday December 15, a reception will be held for Jessie Slack, a long time volunteer at the Nowata Historical Society Museum. Jessie has put in many hours working to make the Museum a success. The reception will be a come and go from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, with light refreshments. Location is the Nowata Museum at 136 S. Oak Street. Come say hi to Jessie and others.

November is Veterans Month at the Museum…

The Nowata County Historical Society Museum is presenting a special exhibit during the month of November saluting the men and women of our military. Items from our archives that have not been on display will be available for view along with recent acquisitions and special military related items that are on loan from county residents.
We have uniforms for men and women from WW I, WW 2, OMA, weapons, First Day Issue Envelopes with stamps from the day that ships were commissioned, along with items that were used in everyday life as a military service person. Front pages are also shown from the Nowata County papers with headlines addressing action in the theaters of war.
This special exhibit will run through the month of November.