The Memorial Day Flash Flood

Oct 18, 2012

It seems like Almost Yesterday that Southeast Missouri received a sudden and terrific flash flood. It was Memorial Day weekend in 1973, and while rain and the possibility of severe storms were predicted, no one was prepared for the heavy downpour that arrived shortly before midnight, Saturday, the 27th of May.

Many residents of the region were anticipating a traditional and enjoyable weekend, the beginning of the summer recreational season.  There were plans for camping, hiking, cook outs, and family gatherings.  Others stayed home to enjoy good food and good times with family and visitors from out of town.

At approximately 10:00 p. m., Mother Nature intervened in everyone’s holiday plans, when as one resident said, “Someone turned the faucet on.”

For the next six hours the rain came down as hard as older residents said they had ever seen it. At the peak of the torrent, the pounding rain was frightening in its intensity. The Weather Bureau later reported that in three hours, between 11:00 p. m. and 2:00 a. m., approximately seven to eight inches of rain fell across Southeast Missouri. Scott City, Marquand, Delta, Advance, Chaffee, Fredericktown, and Cape Girardeau appeared to have received the most rain, and the greatest damage.

Many homes and businesses were inundated by the moving water. Cars were washed away, fuel tanks overturned, and many animals drowned.

In the midst of the downpour, two tornadoes occurred, destroying homes and property in Madison County.

Physical damage from the wind and rain was enormous, but tragically, ten people in Southeast Missouri lost their lives that stormy holiday night.

For those who lived through it, Memorial Day Weekend of 1973 seems like almost yesterday.