A Moment in
Desha County History
April 21 - August 1927
"The levees have given way!" These were words that struck fear in
the heart of citizens of Desha County as muddy, swirling waters poured
over breaches in the weakened Mississippi and Arkansas River levees in
1927. Families scrambled to gather a few belongings and make their
way to higher ground in the short time they had before escape bridges
and roads were covered or washed away. All of Desha County except a part
of Dumas and Jefferson township were completely
covered in water from six inches to five feet. Families that
stayed lived in the second floor of homes and buildings, in tents on
levees, even in boxcars left by the railroad. Livestock and wild
animals perished. Once rich farm land had topsoil washed away with sand
left in its place. The thriving timber industry never recovered
leaving two failed banks and lost fortunes in its wake.
Homes and businesses were
destroyed or heavily damaged. Merchandise and service
establishments were lost. Drainage ditches were eroded or filled
with sediment. County roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed.
Streets and sewer systems in some towns were heavily damaged. In
cemeteries, head stones were dislocated and many graves washed away.
Water supplies were contaminated with many wells rendered useless.
The wildlife of the county was practically exterminated. The
poorest of the county suffered extensively. (From "The
Flood of 1927" by Judge Jim Merritt)
several years and hundreds of thousands of aid dollars for the county to
become somewhat normal. More information on this worst disaster in
Desha County history can be found in "The '27 Flood In Desha County"
special edition for sale on the publications page.