My Childhood Easter in a Historic Flood

I am going to tell you a true story of my childhood Spoonful of Sugar Easter….

This afternoon as we prepare to head out for Easter Vigil, the Family Channel was showing the movie Mary Poppins. As you will read, this is so very appropriate for me. Mary Poppins came out in 1965~and oddly enough, we saw it at the movie theater ON Easter Sunday afternoon. Trust me, this was very atypical for my family…..but that Easter, we were living in Winona, MN in the midst of a flood. We were still in our home, as were our neighbors. Winona, MN is a small town on the Mississippi River. It is about 2 miles wide-with the River on one side, and the lake on the other side. Our living room and dining room furniture had been sent to a warehouse up on the bluffs; Winona sat in a valley.

Easter morning, after church, we played croquet in our living room.

 How did we do it? One of us would simply hold the hoop up when it was time to try to shoot the ball through it. Easy-sneezy

What fun, what an adventure. My family always turned lemonade into lemons. After Easter dinner, we walked downtown and saw the movie. After the movie, we walked the few blocks to where the river had reached. As was my folks’ custom, we all sang songs from the movie as we walked along. How lucky am I??? VERY!

The river had come well up over the banks and was almost crested. To this day, the river has not reached that height. We peered at the water to see if we could see any rats, but we only saw them in our imaginations. But we did see high school, college, and grown men making sandbags and passing them up the line. The news networks and newspapers called Winona the city that saved itself. Yep~we didn’t have time to wait for help. Time was of essence. Everyone pitched in. Everyone helped each other…..Now THAT is Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!!! After the photo is a story from the link below. It gives you tons of facts about my old hometown and THE flood. To this day, that Easter is a cherished, happy, beloved childhood memory.

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/?n=flood1965pictures

When Was Easter Sunday in 1965?

In the year 1965, Easter Sunday fell on: April 18th

Winona, MN

At Winona, Minnesota, the Mississippi River went above its flood stage (13 feet) on April 10th.  The river reached moderate flood stage (15 feet) on April 13th and major flood stage (18 feet) on April 16th.  The river crested at a record 20.77 feet on April 19th.  This surpassed the previous record of 17.91 feet on April 20, 1952.  The river then fell below major flood stage on April 26th and moderateflood stage on May 1st.  The river finally fell below flood stage early on May 5th.  This was 26 days after the river flooding began.  The river then lingered within two to three feet of flood stage through mid June.

Winona, MN hydrograph constructed 
from 8 AM river Winona, MN Hydrographstages

Flood predictions from the U.S. Weather Bureau and local actions taken based from Winona Daily News articles:

  • March 19th:  Joseph H. Strub Jr., hydrologist at the U.S. Weather Bureau said that “if additional rainfall occurs, crests at Winona will be near those of 1952.”
  • March 31st:  Joseph H. Strub Jr., hydrologist at the U.S. Weather Bureau said that “heavy April rains may mean a record crest for Winona.”
  • April 7th:  Joseph H. Strub Jr., hydrologist at the U.S. Weather Bureau predicted an 18-foot or higher crest.
  • April 8th:  Winona city officials met that morning and came up with a plan to throw up an 18-foot temporary dike around the city’s vulnerable east side and ordered high-volume pumps to handle overloads at the sewage treatment plant. The same day, Joseph H. Strub Jr., hydrologist at the U.S. Weather Bureau revised his flood predictions and now the river was expected to crest at nearly 21 feet (nine feet over flood stage, and nearly three feet higher than the “hundred year” flood of 1952) or .  That night Mayor Rudy Ellings called a meeting of contractors and challenged them to erect a dike. They marked out four sectors – from lock and dam 5A on Prairie Island to Mankato Avenue. Within 24 hours, construction had begun.
  • From April 9th through April 19th:  As many as 5,000 people worked to build, and later monitor, the temporary dikes. They filled 1.3 million sand bags and worked round the clock for 10 days, using almost 300 trucks, 25 to 30 bulldozers, 8 earth movers, 10 drag lines and a dozen backhoes.
  • April 19th:  Early in the morning, William Fitzgerald collapsed and died after delivering a load of sand bags.  He was 35 years old and he had operated Hill Top Tavern near Stockton.  This was Winona’s only fatality contributed to the flood. The Mississippi River at Winona, MN crested at 20.77 feet.  The dikes worked, and Winona remained, for the most part, dry.

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
This entry was posted in Positive Thinking and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to My Childhood Easter in a Historic Flood

  1. Wow. I love stories like this. Amazing.
    Thanks for sharing this story. And, yes, you did hae a blessed childhood. Thanks for making good use of it!

  2. jakesprinter says:

    Great post Kate 🙂

  3. You have such amazing stories that you share, your journey being one about adventures you make out of anything,, a flood perhaps? I so love this share kate.
    Thankfully and gratefully your blogging bud, BB~

    • Kate Kresse says:

      BB~Life IS an adventure, isn’t it? And ‘happiness runs in a circular motion; love is like a little boat upon the sea….’..Love your shares, too BB hugs and happy Easter

  4. tbnranch says:

    Oh my, an incredible story!

    • Kate Kresse says:

      After finding all the historical stuff online (which I included in the post) yesterday it became even more amazing….We were in an amazing place at an incredible point in history…..blessed, blessed, blessed I am.

  5. Isn’t it fun to look back at childhood memories and to fill in gaps with real historic documentation! I think your memories seem to run very close to fact! I had to laugh that you ran looking for rats! Ha! It really impresses me that although this could have been a frightening event your parents obviously made you all feel very safe! What an interesting Easter story! Debra

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Debra~ I remember the announcers on the radio frequently warning parents not to let their kids go to the barns and garages. They said there could be sewer rats there, and that the rats could corner the children and harm them. to this day the image I had was a 4 foot rat standing on his hind legs, moving menacingly toward either me or my brother. At the time I had never seen a rat~it was years later that I did see a sewer rat…ewwwwww…..and yes, my parents made us feel safe!

  6. Kathy says:

    What a great memory/story.
    Funny thing about Easter 1965. My family went to see Mary Poppins that same Easter Sunday after church! I was 6 years old and we drove “all the way” to Ft Worth to see it. AND we had Sunday Dinner in a restaurant in Ft Worth as well.
    Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite Easters as a kid.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Oh Kathy~you gave me goosebumps! We share such a similar Easter memory! I bet you think of that whenever you see Mary Poppins or hear the music from it, right? Remember how very magical it was to go to “the movie house” hen we were kids? Oh my….the screen was so big and we were so little. thanks for sharing your memory!

  7. Maria Tatham says:

    Kate, I love to read about your childhood, and the family that was so optimistic and loving! The way you describe things blesses me!
    Maria
    P.S. In 1993, I took a plane ride from Ohio to CA to visit my sister-in-law, flying over the Mississippi at flood-stage. Even from way way up there, it was awesome!

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