Tuesday, November 20, 2018

River Flooding - April 1983

One of the worst floods ever to hit Covington came in April of 1983. Here are some photographs. Click on the images to make them larger.

Holden's Gulf Station viewed from the overpass




From the Mullen-Frederick scrapbook came this account of flooding over the years in Covington, with a lot of information about the 1916 flood as well as the 1983 flooding:
The 1884 Flood
In March of 1884 a devastating flood hit Covington as a result of heavy rains causing the streams to "overflow their banks," according to the St. Tammany Farmer.

"There was a rise of about 15 feet in the Bogue Falaya River," the newspaper item stated, "and the bridge at Covington was washed away."

"This is a great misfortune to our town and parish, and steps should be taken to rebuild the bridge at once," the article concluded.


The Big Floods in Covington

It appears the best information available that the worse flood of record for Covington was in the spring of 1916. The Bogue Falaya River rose to record heights causing extensive damage to homes and businesses near the river.

On Boston Street the water came almost to the corner of Columbia where the Covington Bank building was located.

The next highest flood that we have information on was in the Spring of 1927. This flood was not quite as high as the one in 1916.

The river current washed away the railroad trestle and track, it also washed away the Bogue Falaya river bridge at Boston Street. This bridge was a heavy cantilever steel structure and it settled in The bottom of the river about 1000 feet down the river from its location.

The water rushed down America Street which became as rough as the main river dragging with it whatever was loose or movable. The water covered the highest spot on Claibrone Hill, and inside a restaurant which was raised some feet from the ground.

The tables and chairs were floating around. This restaurant was located near the present small Citizens Bank building.

Hebert and Lawrence Frederick traveled in a motor boat down the Mandeville Road and rescued people from their flooded homes on the Mandeville Road and Riverside Drive and other places.

These rescued persons were delivered on the Covington side to a spot on Boston Street where the Shell service station is now located. Farther in town Boston Street was flooded and closed between Vermont Street and Massachusetts streets.

This water came near covering the highest spot in old Covington. At the time of those two floods there were few homes built in the low areas and only one house in the Old Landing area. This house is still there and had no water in the flood of 1983.

But in the 1927 flood there was several feet water inside this old home. The family of Anital Boucedray lived there and had to be rescued and climbed out of the windows into boats.

During the years between 1927 and 1983 there have been no serious high water floods.

April 1983

The flood of 1983, however, was disastrous, many homes had been built in areas which had not been flooded in recent years and was thought to be relatively safe.

For years no serious threats showed up and so the residents considered they were safe. The 1983 flood rose very fast and occurred during the night and many people were waked  during the night and early morning and found water in their homes.

Some were cut off from escape to higher ground. This flood caused much serious damage to homes and to contents, furniture and other articles which were unable to remove or raise out of reach of the water.

Fortunately there was no loss of life, the National Guard, Coast Guard, sheriff deputies, local police, Red Cross and others performed a great service in handing this situation.

People were moved by these organizations without regard to belongings and personal effects and moved to shelters for care and safety. The flooding in the western of the parish was caused by Tchefuncta River and Bogue Falaya River which runs through Covington.

There was also severe flooding in the Slidell area in eastern St. Tammany parish which was caused by the Pearl River. This river flooded many large subdivisions in and about Slidell, and it was the third time this area was flooded in the past two years.

At one time it was reported that the loss in St. Tammany Parish was $ 100,000,000.

The flood was caused by very severe rains which dumped 20 inches Of water on several parishes in southeast Louisiana in 24 hours. There was no way the drainage systems could handle this tremendous downpour.

All bridges leading into or out of Covington were under water, and all highways were closed. All telephone service in or out of covington was severed, almost all bridges in St. Tammany Parish were either washed away or damaged.

The area about Folsom was severely flooded and many homes damaged. This also continued to the Goodbee area and the Tchefuncta River rose out of its bank and submerged these areas.

The water which poured down over several southeast Louisiana parishes was in some areas channeled to the Tchefuncta and Bogue Falaya Rivers and had to pass Covington and also these rivers had to drain our own parish. These two rivers emptied into Lake Pontchartrain.

See also:

Flood Devastates Covington, 1916