Portsmouth, OH Flood, Jan 1937

Move 5,000 Refugees From Portsmouth to Columbus

Twenty Thousand Others Are Homeless in Greater Portsmouth.

PORTSMOUTH, O., Jan. 25---(AP)-- Bucking swift treacherous flood waters, boats piled from house to house tonight picking up 5,000 refugees for a mass evacuation to Columbus.

Fire Chief Robert Leedom estimated that from 5,000 to 7,000 persons still were in the dangerous flood zone where swift current of the Ohio river tore a dozen houses from their foundation.

Twenty thousand others are homeless in Greater Portsmouth.

Col. E. P. Lawler of the Ohio National Guard said that the hundreds of families who had risked their lives for four days to stay in the second and third floors of their homes "were tickled to death for a chance to get out."

From the boats, the refugees, clinging to the meagre personal belongings they salvaged, were hauled in trucks over temporary rough roads to meet relief trains from Columbus.

Trains Halted By Flood

Flood water halted the trains seven miles north of here. There the refugees boarded coaches for the 90-mile trip to Columbus where the Red Cross will care for them until the record flood recedes here.

Two trains, each carrying 690 passengers, were used to transport the refugees throughout the night.

Five hundred other refugees from suburban New Boston, where nearly 2,000 are homeless, were to be taken in buses to Jackson, 28 miles northeast of Portsmouth.

Darkness brought near panic to scores of the homes which had not been reached by rescue boats as water [illegible] feet deep pounded around the houses.

The Times Recorder, Zanesville, OH 26 Jan 1937


Brooms, Mops, Assembled In Flooded City.

Portsmouth Gets Set to Scrub City When River Retreats.


Patrol Deserted City in Skiffs and Canoes to Guard Homes.

Portsmouth, Jan. 29.---(AP)---Although Ohio river flood waters still lapped over this city at a 73-foot stage, stricken Portsmouth rolled up its sleeves and started in on a clean-up campaign today.

Two banks, their main offices under water, opened up temporary headquarters in a residential district on hilltops, so as to provide citizens with funds for repairing homes and stores.

As proof that the rehabilitation work would be a real "mop-up" piles of mops and brooms were stored in relief offices on the hills.

A light rain fell, but it was not considered sufficient to halt the slow drop of the river.

City Manager Frank Sheehan said city waterworks pumps would be ready to start as soon as the river reached a 64-foot level. This, he hoped, might be by the first of next week.

While a fifth trainload of about 500 refugees left for Columbus, police took to skiffs and canoes in an effort to combat increasing burglaries.

They said most of the looters glided into and out of submerged buildings in vessels of such light draft that it was impossible for motorboats to pursue them.

All informed sources surveying the scene today agreed that damage would be much greater, both from flood and looting, that had been anticipated. Despite boarded fronts, most store windows were broken.

All except the strongest buildings were said to be weakened and household goods were almost a total loss. No money estimate of damage was made, however.

Similar reports came from upriver. At Ironton, Col., Harry D. Jackson, in charge of the national guard there, said looters had taken a considerable supply of food.

At Gallipolis, as an evidence of the cheerier spirit of the flood sufferers, 2,000 gallons of milk were sent downstream by boat to Huntington, W. Va., where thirst is a problem.

Adjutant General Emil Marx announced he would send 1,000 or more additional national guardsmen into the river cities for duty throughout the rehabilitation period. More than 2,000 already are on duty from Cincinnati upstream.

The Newark Advocate, Newark, OH 29 Jan 1937