Surviving the Storms of Life: The 1937 Flood

Huntington, West Virginia, during the great flood of 1937

The severe weather we have been experiencing here reminds me to tell you about the Great Flood of 1937, known in these parts as simply the 1937 Flood.  While it was long ago, and obviously before my time, people in this area still talk about it, and there are old photos in many homes and businesses of the damage.  The water was so high in places that it even covered and washed away houses, and it completely wiped out entire towns along the Ohio River.

West Virginia has many, many large bodies of water.  We even have a lot of waterfalls, which is not well known to those who have not actually explored the more rural areas.  There is not only the mighty Ohio River, which is a mile across where Huntington meets Ohio, there is also the Guyandotte River, Big Sandy River, Monongahela River, Kanawha River, Greenbrier River, New River, and too many others to list.  Lots of the creeks here are so large that they are considered to be rivers as well.

Naming the rivers reminds me of an amusing story.  When I was in high school, I was very involved in 4-H and student government programs.  Through those programs, I came to know the late A. James Manchin, at that time Secretary of State.  Now, A. James was quite the character.  A tubby man with a loud booming voice, he was a real oldtime politician, and quite beloved throughout the state.  For some reason he took a shine to me, probably just because I was an awkward brainy kid from a poor family – salt of the earth, as he might say.  I actually liked A. James quite a bit, and he was always very nice to me, but even as a kid I realized he was a little on the wacky side.

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