70th Anniversary of the July 13th, 1951 Great Flood
Considered One of the Greatest Natural Disasters in the Midwest
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - 70 years ago on July 13th, 1951, 370,000 Kansans were being displaced from their homes due to an extreme flood that would forever after be known as “Black Friday.”
The infamous 1951 flood caused $760 million in damages, $34 million in Topeka. When adjusted for inflation, the flood would have cost more than $7.8 billion if this had happened today and the Topeka would have faced a bill of $352 million.
The National Weather Service reports that roughly 24,000 residents were evacuated from the homes in Topeka where waters reached 14.8 feet above flood stage when the Kansas River crested at 40.8 feet.
The flood also caused significant flooding in Manhattan, Lawrence and Kansas City. Downtown Manhattan was standing in 8 feet of water on the morning of July 13 according the National Weather Service. The flood caused damage in 150-200 cities and towns across both Kansas and Missouri.
For comparison, the flood waters on July 24, 1993 reached a height of 34.97 feet in Topeka. July of 1993 did see more rainfall though with 16.75″ officially being measured, however the 1951 flood was worse due to heavy rains in both June and July where 10.59″ fell in June 1951 and 11.57″ in July 1951. The 1993 flood was more deadly with 50 deaths blamed on the flooding whereas 28 deaths were blamed on the 1951 flood.
Since the flood, dams, levee’s and reservoirs have all been constructed by the Corps of Engineers to prevent flooding of that magnitude from happening again.
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