Look Back to Jan. 29, 1937 When the Floods Hit
10 Cities in Diocese Hit by Floods
10,000 Leave Cairo as Ohio Threatens 60-Foot Seawall; Shawneetown Evacuated, Levee Gives Away
Approximately ten cities in the Diocese of Belleville have been seriously affected by the unprecedented rise of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The flood, which has taken a tremendous toll in property and an unrecorded number of human lives, has caused heavy damages to churches, schools, church property and homes in the extreme southeastern and southern portions of the Diocese.
The flood area, which extends along the Ohio and Mississippi Valley is described by refugees as resembling wartime disaster. Homeless refugees are being transported to safety by government patrol boats as quickly as possible. A shortage of food and clothing, and contamination of drinking water have added to the distress. Epidemics of various diseases are expected to follow in the wake of the flood due to insufficient housing facilities and lack of medical supplies in the stricken areas.
No Word from Shawneetown
Since phone communication and telegraphic lines have been disrupted, reports from all the towns in the Diocese in the flood area, are necessarily incomplete and to some extent may be inaccurate, The Chancery Office has tried for days to establish contact with Father Tragesser and Father Harbaugh of Ridgway and Shawneetown. They have been unsuccessful in this attempt, but reports indicate that Shawneetown is completely evacuated at this time. No report from Ridgway has been received. As far as is known no loss of life occurred as the city had been evacuated except for the men patrolling the levee. These workers were rescued by government cutters before the break.
The latest report from Cairo was a wire from Father Pender sent to the Bishop on the afternoon of January 25. Father Pender wired as follows: “Condition of city very serious. Shall stay until the last. Begging you Episcocopal blessing.” The Bishop responded with this message: “Sympathize deeply. Bestow blessing. Pray God to console and help sufferers.”
Waters Surrounding Harrisburg
The latest word from Harrisburg on Tuesday afternoon came from Father Tikuisis stating: “all the roads out of Harrisburg to Eldorado, Equality, Ridgway and Shawneetown are closed on account of high water, the only route open being route 13 from Marion.”
A card received from Father Wigmann, pastor of Equality which was mailed on January 25, informed His Excellency that the water has come into the rectory and also in the church. Father Wigmann was forced to leave but intends to go back daily if possible. He is at present residing with Father Hanagan at Eldorado, which is harboring hundreds of refugees from the lowlands.
It has been impossible to establish contact with Father Reis at Elizabethtown. Other cities in the flooded area include Metropolis and Rosiclaire.
It is reported the church basement at the former place is flooded. No communication has been received from Rosiclaire.
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